A view of a cardamom farm in the northern part of Yangbarak Rural Municipality in Panchthar. Photo: Giriraj Banskota/Republica
PANCHTHAR, July 30: Farmers in Province 1 have become weary because of the slowdown in sales of their cash crops including cardamom, ginger, and seasonal vegetables. The farmers are worried as the supply of tomatoes and milk products like hardened cheese has dwindled in recent days.
Supply of tomatoes to nearby Indian cities has seen non-tariff barriers from the last week, and farmers have no option than to dump their produce. There is also a depression in prices of these products in recent years, including a fall in cardamom price from Rs 120,000 to Rs 30,000 per 40 kg this year.
President of Panchthar Chapter of Federation of National Farmers' Group, Ganesh Pokhrel, complained: "This kind of situation does not bear well for the overall farming sector. Hope of prosperity through agricultural production seems to remain only a pipedream." Farmers have said that the only option left for them would be to quit farming, and it may work as a push factor for more youths from the villages to go abroad for migrant jobs.
Such difficult situation has come to surface at a time when the federal government has announced to double agricultural production within the next five years in an effort to reduce import of agro products.
Ginger has been another cash crop suffering Indian non-tariff barriers. It has prompted several farmers to shift to traditional farming as their produce did not fetch good prices in the last year.
The ginger price has again failed to pick up despite India announcing unhindered supply of Nepali fresh ginger. Though Nepali farmers expected unhindered export of Nepali ginger to India following the lift of restriction for Nepali fresh ginger effective from July first week, farmers say the price has remained almost the same or lower than usual.
Senior Agriculture Development Officer of Panchthar Kamesh Tiwari acknowledged that the farmers are suffering due to falling prices in the market due to various reasons. Tiwari stressed on the need to boost internal consumption to protect the profession of farming.
The story is the same for Chiraito, a profitable herbal crop. Ram Prasad Mainali, a Chiraito farmer in the district, said that he used to sell his produce at Rs 30,000 per 40 kg but the price has now fallen to Rs 5,000 to 6,000. Mainali also said that several farmers have been unable to sell their produce of last year.