Tea farmers of Suryodaya Municipality dump green leaves near Fikkal Bazaar of Ilam.
ILAM, July 4: Tea farmers of Suryodaya Municipality of Ilam threw green leaves on road on Sunday as part of their protest against factory operators.
They took the decision after factory operators refused to buy green leaves from them saying that leaves were of ‘inferior quality’, a tea farmer told Republica.
Farmers took to the street against factory operators a day after the two sides reached to an agreement on minimum price of green leaves.
Factory operators had shut operations of 52 tea processing plants of the municipality from June 27 stating that they cannot pay farmers the minimum support price of Rs 40 per kg for green leaves as fixed by Suryodaya Municipality. The matter was resolved after farmers agreed to comply with quality standards of green leaves and tea factory agreed not to process low quality leaves.
Farmers on Sunday had taken tea leaves to the factory through collectors. After factory operators refused to buy the leaves, they threw tea leaves on road at Nayachowk of Fikkal Bazaar and in front of the office of Suryodaya Municipality.
Tea farmer Tara Nepal said they were forced to take to the streets after factories returned every leaves of high quality. “They refused to buy tea leaves even after we agreed to maintain the quality and provided them with quality product. They seemed to be bent on creating trouble for us,” he added.
The municipality had implemented the minimum price of tea leaves through ‘Green Leaves Quality Standard Work Plan’ after farmers complained about the unstable pricing of tea leaves. As per the work plan, farmers should sell green leaves having at least 40% shoots.
Famers, who had gathered in front of Suryodaya Municipality Office on Monday, argued that their leaves meet standard prescribed in the standards. They also asked the municipality to launch a study on quality of their leaves.
“We had sent quality green leaves on Monday as per the agreement reached on Saturday. But they returned it. Now, the municipality should study the quality of our leaves and resolve the matter,” Subhash Chaurase, another farmer, said.
Meanwhile, the municipality has decided to study the quality of leaves thrown on the streets. The municipality has decided to ask a committee led by Ram Awatar Shah, head of Tea Expansion Project, Fikkal, to resolve the matter.