OAG finds disparity in compensation paid to fruit farmers

Published On: April 29, 2017 01:10 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, April 29: It has been revealed that farmers in Saptari were paid eight times more compensation for a litchi tree compared to farmers in Sunsari. 

Similarly, farmers in Udayapur received five times more compensation payment for a mango tree compared to farmers in Sunsari, shows audit report of Fiscal Year 2015/16 unveiled by Office of the Auditor General two weeks ago.

The Nadaha-Koshipul-Chatara-Rupnagar road project paid compensation to farmers while acquiring land for the project. The project had paid compensation amount based on the price set by District Agricultural Development Offices of the three districts. 

The offices had fixed separate rates for fruit trees like mango, litchi, betel nut, coconut and jackfruit, among others. Based on the rates, the price fixation committees in each district had fixed the compensation amount. According to the report, project implementation units of the road project financed by Asian Development Bank have paid over Rs 20 million to 520 farmers for 1,794 fruit trees felled in the three districts.

The report says it was surprising to see such a huge difference in price of fruit trees in three neighboring districts. While farmers in Sunsari got only Rs 4,000 for a mango three, those in Udayapur received up to Rs 23,625 per tree. Farmers in Saptari received compensation payment of Rs 10,000-20,000 per tree.

Prices for other fruit trees were far higher in Udayapur and Saptari compared to Sunsari, according to the report. A betel nut tree fetched farmers only Rs 2,000 in Sunsari, while those in Udayapur pocketed as high as Rs 9,000. The project paid up to Rs 25,000 for a litchi tree in Saptari, compared to Rs 3,000-5,000 per tree in Sunsari. Farmers in Udayapur received Rs 18,000 for a litchi tree.

According to the report, farmers in Udayapur received Rs 18,000 for a coconut tree, while those in Sunsari received only Rs 3,000. Similarly, farmers in Udayapaur and Saptari got Rs 10,000 for a jackfruit tree, while those in Sunsari were given only Rs 5,000 per tree.

Padma Nath Atreya, fruits development officer at Kirtipur-based Central Horticulture Center, said such a big difference in valuation of fruit tree was unnatural. "Price assessment of fruit trees is done based on the cost of production. This means younger plant brings less money, while trees which have started bearing fruits fetch higher prices," he added.

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