Farmers Manturiya and Bikau Ram, a married couple, at a wheat field. Photo: Ritesh Tripathi/Republica
BIRGUNJ, April 18: Wheat farmers of Parsa fear that they will not be able to recover even their cost of production this season. Pre-monsoon rains have compounded woes for farmers who were not getting suitable returns on their investment.
“We are staring at heavy losses. It is becoming difficult to recover even the cost of production,” Bikau Ram, a wheat farmer of Supauli, shared with Republica.
Bikau Ram had cultivate wheat in 10 kattha of land leased from land owner. After setting aside the owner's share from the harvest, he had planned to sell remaining grains keeping good profit margin. But he has harvested only harvested 160 kilograms of wheat from four kattha of land so far.
Bikau Ram managed to produce only 40 kilograms per kattha this season. This means a kattha of land produced only Rs 1,000 worth of wheat. Cost of tractor for plowing, irrigation and chemical fertilizers raises production cost to around Rs 1,500 per kattha excluding daily wages of Bikau Ram and his wife.
Going by the average daily wage of farmers in Parsa, which stands at Rs 500, Bikau Ram and his wife should have received Rs 15,000-20,000 in wages. But the couple does not even want to talk about that.
Farmers, who saw a good harvest, have managed to produce only around 60 kg per kattha.
Buni Narayan Rawat of Sibarwa told Republica: “I have managed to recover my investment, thanks to good harvest. Rain damaged some of our wheat crop. However, we are thankful that it was only rain. Had there been hailstones, we would have suffered more destruction.”
Large-scale farmers are also not satisfied with wheat production this season. While the cost of production of has increased due to rising prices of seeds, chemical fertilizers, higher wagers of farm workers and irrigation fee, among others, market price of wheat has fallen significantly, farmers say. They also added that they will continue to face loss if market prices are determined by industrialists.
Industrialists, however, claim that the farmers are getting adequate price for their products. “We pay farmers on the basis of price fixed by the industrialists,” Binod Sah, who purchases wheat from farmers and supplies to industries, said.
He also said flour mills located between Birgunj and Hetauda fix price of farm products like wheat.
Agricultural expert Lalan Tiwari says farmers were at the receiving end due to lack of proper mechanism to determine price of farm products.