Why are veg­etable prices ris­ing?

The UB Post - - Front Page - By T.BAYARBAT

Veg­etable prices, es­pe­cially the price of pota­toes, have taken a sharp in­crease in re­cent days, caus­ing frus­tra­tion among the pub­lic as peo­ple are forced to stop pur­chas­ing a sta­ple of their diet.

When you ask a clerk who works for a su­per­mar­ket sell­ing veg­eta­bles or gro­cery shop why veg­etable prices have been in­creas­ing in re­cent days, they will tell you that prices of veg­eta­bles be­ing sold in Bars Mar­ket, the largest wholesale food mar­ket in Ulaan­baatar, are ris­ing, and they need to in­crease prices too to make a profit.

In re­al­ity, few peo­ple who own big gro­cery ware­houses have taken con­trol of the food mar­ket, and they get more profits in the spring and sum­mer ses­sions by sell­ing veg­eta­bles that were stored in their ware­houses since the last har­vest for high prices.

A gro­cer at Bars Mar­ket said that veg­etable prices al­ways shoot up at this time of the year be­fore har­vest and prices will go down in Au­gust when new veg­eta­bles en­ter the mar­ket.

The gro­cer em­pha­sized that potato price seems to be higher by nearly 300 MNT per kg than it was last year, but it is nat­u­ral and that peo­ple should un­der­stand that sum­mer is a time of short­age, and as de­mand spikes prices rise too.

Gro­cers at Bars Mar­ket only buy from few peo­ple do­ing gro­cery busi­ness with big­ger ware­houses, and they sup­ply re­tail­ers through­out Ulaan­baatar, even many places around the cap­i­tal in­creased prices in­ten­tion­ally.

Pota­toes is a cru­cial source of food for peo­ple, and many worry about the qual­ity of the cheaper, un­safe and un­healthy food they have been con­sum­ing over the years, but they can’t sim­ply stop con­sum­ing them as they can­not af­ford bet­ter qual­ity food.

Many peo­ple used cheap Chi­nese pota­toes from the be­gin­ning of 1990s un­til late last sum­mer, when Pres­i­dent Kh.Bat­tulga made the de­ci­sion to stop im­port­ing pota­toes from abroad to sup­port do­mes­tic farm­ers and en­hance the na­tion’s food se­cu­rity.

After the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion, many farm­ers and peo­ple com­mended his de­ci­sion, and some do­mes­tic farm- ers told the pres­i­dent that as a re­sult of his ban on im­port­ing pota­toes, es­pe­cially those from China, they are now able to fully sup­ply the de­mand of their re­gion and that peo­ple are able to con­sume or­ganic pota­toes with bet­ter qual­ity. How­ever, Chi­nese pota­toes are still be­ing sold in gro­cery stores today.

When asked how they are able to im­port Chi­nese pota­toes de­spite the pres­i­dent’s ban, some of gro­cers replied that pota­toes are still en­ter­ing throught eh bor­der as no­body ad­heres to the rules and laws in Mon­go­lia, while oth­ers said that some gro­cery busi­nesses had stored Chi­nese pota­toes in their ware­houses be­fore the pres­i­dent’s ban.

Many be­lieve that some are still bring­ing pota­toes to Mon­go­lia from abroad by brib­ing cus­toms of­fi­cers.

As do­mes­tic potato prices rise, the price of Chi­nese pota­toes is also in­creas­ing, which al­ready dou­bled since the pres­i­dent’s ban last year.

In a TV interview, a man run­ning a wholesale potato busi­ness noted that after the pres­i­dent banned the im­por­ta­tion of pota­toes, do­mes­tic farm­ers’ in­comes in­creased be­cause sup­ply of cheap Chi­nese pota­toes ended, and so they started in­creas­ing the price of pota­toes.

In re­al­ity, whole­salers who own big­ger ware­houses buy tons of cheap pota­toes, at rates around 300 to 400 MNT per kg, dur­ing har­vest ses­sion and sell pota­toes for six or seven­fold the orig­i­nal price the next sum­mer.

Farm­ers say that stor­ing pota­toes to keep them fresh is not hard com­pared to other veg­eta­bles, and of course, whole­salers spend a lot of money and make a lot of ef­forts to keep pota­toes fresh by op­ti­miz­ing stor­age tem­per­a­tures, and other con­di­tions. But this does not jus­tify the un­re­al­is­tic prices, which means gro­cery and meat whole­salers are play­ing with the liveli­hood of the na­tion.

Some govern­ment of­fi­cials and farm­ers claim that the Mon­go­lian farm­ers can meet the do­mes­tic de­mand for pota­toes, but in re­al­ity, they aren’t able to do so.

The state makes de­ci­sions for pro­mot­ing small and medium-sized en­ter­prises and do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion, and de­vel­op­ing agri­cul­ture and live­stock sec­tors, but govern­ment of­fi­cials ne­glect the ac­tiv­ity to hold com­pa­nies do­ing il­le­gal busi­nesses ac­count­able. The end re­sult is the vi­o­la­tion of con­sumer rights and the na­tion suf­fers.

Mon­go­lians are still baf­fled at such un­fair and high meat and veg­etable prices as the coun­try has over 60 mil­lion live­stock and over 1.5 mil­lion square km of land.

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