Lockdown creating opportunity for vegetable farmers in Karnali

Published On: April 27, 2020 05:50 PM NPT By: Nagendra Upadhyaya

SURKHET, April 27: Dinesh Rawal, a resident of Sidhhakumakh Rural Municipality in Salyan district runs an agriculture farm in Panchapuri Municipality-9, Bijuma in the western part of Surkhet. A 10+2 graduate, Rawal has taken 40 ropanis of land on lease for vegetable farming. Eighteen local people have been employed at the farm where green vegetables including tomatoes, green chilis, pumpkins, cabbage, and cucumbers are ready to be picked and supplied to the market.

Amid the news of shortage of agricultural produce in the market due to the month-long lockdown enforced by the government to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease, Rawal, the owner of Dynamic Visionary Enterprises, said that the lockdown has come as a gift in disguise for him.

The Karnali Province government’s decision to ban the import of vegetables from India and other provinces has helped in the supply and consumption of vegetables produced within the province. According to Rawal, the lockdown has created new opportunities for the farmers although it has hit other walks of life hard. He added that he sold vegetables worth Rs 1 million during this lockdown period.

Mahendra Bista, who hails from Kathmandu and runs Om Siddhi Binayak Agriculture Farm in Surkhet, has supplied vegetables worth Rs 700,000 to the market in the past one month. He produces vegetables on a plot of 70 ropanis of leased land. “As the provincial government has imposed a ban on imported veggies, our products easily get a market,” said he, adding that retailers themselves come to his farm and take the vegetables to the market. He, however, added that there is a shortage of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides in the market. He added, “This has adversely affected our production chain.”

Bhanu Bhakta Upadhyay, a local of Birendranagar Municipality-3, runs a farm named Organic Agro Farm. In his 24 ropanis of leased land, he produces vegetables, which, these days, are directly supplied to the provincial capital, Birendranagar. He had signed a contract with local retailers of supplying 70 quintals of vegetables a day. However, due to the lack of fertilizers, seeds and pesticides, he has not been able to produce enough vegetables to meet the market demand.  

Before the ban was imposed, 400 to 500 quintals of vegetable products used to be imported to Karnali Province from India alone. As Indian products were cheaper than the locally produced vegetables, local farmers used to be hit hard.

In an attempt to make the province self-reliant in vegetable products and market the local products, the provincial government has been coordinating with the farmers. The provincial Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives has been entrusted for marketing, transportation, and adequate supply of fertilizers, improved seeds and pesticides. 

According to the Provincial Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Bimala KC, they have been utilizing the lockdown period to set a foundation for self-reliance in agriculture. “We have arranged all the necessary seeds, pesticides, and agricultural tools for the farmers,” KC added. 

After its inception, the provincial government had announced the province as an ‘organic province’. 

According to the government statistics, a total of 26,645 metric tonnes of vegetables are produced in 12,304 hectares of land in the province. 

Home delivery of vegetables

Ward 1 of Birendranagar Municipality has started home delivery of vegetables during this lockdown period.

According to the ward chairman, Gangaram Sunar, they purchase the veggies from the farmers and sell them to the locals at the same rate. For this, the ward office has mobilized some volunteers.

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