April 9, 2018 08:12 AM NPT
By: Bira Gadal
BAITADI, April 8: Devanand Pandeya of Jarga village in Dashrath Chand Rural Municipality-4 carries his agricultural products to Gothala Pani Market in a bamboo basket (doko) every day. But he cannot fix the price of his produce; he has to sell at whatever price local traders determine. These traders then sell the produce to consumers by adding higher profit margin.
With middlemen taking a lion's share of the profit, both farmers and consumers of Baitadi are at the receiving end. Khem Nanda Bhatta of Gothala Pani told Republica: “Not only farmers, we are also being robbed. All the profit goes to the middlemen.”
Farmers are hesitant to take their agricultural products to market as middlemen do not provide them good price. “Prices offered by them (middlemen) cannot even meet our cost of production. There is no point in facing loss every day,” Karan Singh Malla, a farmer, said.
Price of vegetables in Gothala Pani and nearby market has skyrocketed in recent weeks. However, farmers have not been able to get a proper price for their produce.
“Each shopkeeper has their own price. The same vegetable costs differently in each shop,” Tej Prasad Pandey of Gothala Pani said.
While the farmers are not being offered good price from traders, they are also not getting money for the total weight of their products. Middlemen have been paying farmers for only 90 percent of the total weight, 'considering possible damage of perishable goods'. This has discouraged many farmers.
As a result, many farmers have started taking farm produce to markets in lowlands of tarai in the hope of getting better price. However, this also does not look viable as farmers have to bear additional transportation cost.
Non-governmental organizations involved in agro sector have not been able to look into this issue. “Although these organizations help in production of vegetables by providing support and necessary fertilizers, we have not been getting proper price for our products,” Rami Chand, a farmer of Pancheshwar Rural Municipality-2, said.
Officials of District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) also agree that the farmers are not getting proper price for vegetables. They further added that this problem has been existing in the market for long. “Although farmers put in very much effort to produce a good yield, this all goes in vein as there are no markets in the district and weekly markets (haat bazaar) is also non-existent in the district,” DADO Spokesperson Karna Bahadur Chand said.
Even after 9 months of the selection of people's representatives, there has been no provision for weekly market for the residents of Baitadi-10. Such provision would allow the farmers to sell their produce on their own.
President of Baitadi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Nar Bahadur Chand, said the government should help the farmers by fixing price of their products.
A few cooperatives are buying products from farmers and negotiating better price with traders. But only limited farmers have access to these cooperatives.