Government forms yet another panel to study paddy crop failure
February 11, 2020 08:30 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Feb 11: While Garima-seed victims run from pillar to post for compensation, the government has formed yet another committee to study the loss of paddy crop suffered by farmers due to use of defective seeds.
The Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest has already deployed the committee for field study. "Based on number of complaints that the department have received, we have sent a team to the field to carry out on the spot investigation,” Nokh Bahadur Bashyal, spokesperson for the department, told Republica.
Bashyal told Republica the department took the step to fulfill the responsibility prescribed by the Consumer Act 2018. He, however, declined to divulge on the fresh investigation being carried out by the government. "We cannot talk about the matter now as the investigation is ongoing," he added.
Number of committees has already investigated the crop failure caused by use of Garima brand of paddy seeds produced by Renova Seed Science India Pvt Ltd of Hyderabad, India. National Agricultural Research Center, which conducted lab test of Garima seeds in October, concluded that the seeds used by farmers were substandard. Similarly, Agricultural Knowledge Center, Chitwan, had also assessed losses on paddy crop and recommended to the government to provide justifiable compensation to the farmers. In addition, the parliamentary Agriculture, Cooperatives and Natural Resources Committee last November had directed the government to provide the farmers with reasonable compensation. But all the reports have gathered dust as the government continues to turn deaf ears toward the demands of the farmers.
Seed Compensation Directive, 2016, states that farmers will have to be compensated for the loss in case of crop failure due to use of defective seeds.
A five-member committee led by Madan Thapa, member secretary of National Seeds Board, in its report unveiled in last November had recommended to the government to provide compensation worth Rs 230 million to the victims farmers. The report states that the use of substandard seeds damaged an estimated 8,500 tons of paddy in more than 17,000 hectares of land in 13 districts. Farmers from Chitwan, Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Tanahun, Kanchanpur and Nawalparasi suffered the most, according to the report.
The government has been allowing traders to import Garima paddy seeds, which is said to give high yields, for the past years. However, farmers suffered badly from low yields this season.
The department, which has initiated fresh investigation, is mandated only to take action against the traders and importers that cheat consumers, according to the consumer right activists. “The new move is less likely to release compensation to farmers," Madhav Timalsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, told Republica.
Farmers are increasingly being suffered from traders or the government time to time. Like the paddy producers, sugarcane farmers have also been struggling to recover dues from both the government and industrialists since past one year.