Potato farmers in Jumla find market at their doorsteps
July 6, 2017 10:48 AM NPT
By: DB Buda
JUMLA, July 5: Potato farmers in Jumla have become overjoyed to sell their products after finding market at their own doorsteps. Vendors are coming to Jumla to buy potatoes from farmers.
Bramananda Adhiakari came to Jumla all the way from Bhairahawa to buy potatoes. He buys potato from Jumla and sells it in Pokhara. He arrived at Khalanga, the district headquarters of Jumla, after seven days’ travel just to buy potatoes because the potatoes of Jumla are of good quality and have a good taste just like the potatoes of Mustang. He has already collected 15 tons of potatoes.
Earlier, women used to carry potatoes on bamboo basket to sell it in Khalanga. But still it never got proper market. Lack of market used to force them to sell potatoes at low price. But now farmers are selling their potatoes inside the village at Rs 22 per kg to vendors. Sher Bahadur Budha from Patmara -- one has sold 30 quintals of potatoes from his house. Last year he earned Rs 150,000 selling potatoes only. According to him, farmers are happy to get vendors at their doorsteps and they no longer have to store their potatoes underground.
A single household earns between Rs 30,000 to Rs 200,000 selling potatoes alone. As the demand for potatoes and apples has increased, no vehicle has been returning empty from Jumla. As vendors are collecting potatoes from farmers’ houses, Khalanga has witnessed shortage of potatoes these days. Farmers used to sell potatoes at Rs 20 per kg in district headquarters but now they are getting Rs 22 per kg.
Local farmer Chukki Mahatara said that this year potato farming has benefitted them a lot. “We have become motivated as the demand for apples and potatoes has increased this year.” Almost every area of Jumla has been producing potatoes which are exported to five districts of Karnali as well as to Surkhet, Nepalgunj, Kohalpur, Butawal and Pokhara.
Balakram Devkota, an officer at the District Agriculture Development Office, Jumla said that the farmers in Jumla are being attracted toward potato farming in the recent years. According to him 3,650 hectares of land have been used for potato farming in Jumla. Statistics of the agriculture office shows that annually 26,000 metric tons potatoes are being produced in the district. Of which 40 percent goes out of the district and 60 percent is consumed in the local market.
Potatoes in rural parts of Jumla decay after not getting market
Every year, tons of potatoes have been decaying in rural areas of Jumla due to lack of market. Om Bahadur Budha living in Tallo Khopri of Jumla has been hit hard this year. Around 10 quintals of potatoes have decayed at his home. Karna Budha from the same village could not do anything rather than watch his five quintals of potatoes decay. According to the farmers of this village, farmers are facing problem after not getting market for their potatoes.
Farmers from Chaudhabis are also facing the same problem. Even though the potatoes from the nearby district headquarters are getting market with suitable price, rural areas are struggling to get market. One of the local farmers, Kalpana Budha, said that they are forced to sell potatoes at low price even in Khalanga. According to her, farmers are satisfied with potato production but not happy with the market.
Farmers said that there is no alternative but to dump rotten potatoes. Potato farmer Harka Bahadur says that every year he produces 20 quintals of potatoes and half of them have been decaying.
“We have to walk a whole day to sell one sack of potatoes. Moreover, we do not get more than Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg.”
On one hand, farmers are not getting market and on the other hand lack of storehouse is causing potatoes to decay. A minimum of 20 to 30 quintals of potatoes per house have been producing annually. Around 500 quintals of potatoes are produced by 20 houses from Tallo Khopri village. Potatoes are their daily meal for winter season though they are struggling to finish the potatoes. He said that their village does not have even a mule to export potatoes.
Potato farmer Karna Bahadur said that they have demanded proper storehouse for potatoes and market to sell them. Most of the villages of the district lack road access causing problem to sell the potatoes in the market. Even though the farmers are satisfied with their production, they are disappointed with the lack of market.