Cooperatives blame MoALD for wastage of agro products


Stakeholders of the cooperatives sector have blamed the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) for not managing the market for local products during the lockdown period.

Speaking during a virtual interaction organised by the Society of Economic Journalists - Nepal (Sejon), representatives of the cooperatives sector said that huge amounts of agriculture products were wasted during the lockdown due to lack of policy level coordination from MoALD.

“In the initial phase of the lockdown, we had written a letter to the agriculture minister requesting for a halt on the import of vegetables from India and creating an environment to supply local vegetables to the market from across the country,” said Minraj Kandel, president of National Cooperative Federation of Nepal (NCFN). “However, he bluntly refused saying that it is not possible.”

While local vegetables were left to rot in the fields and farmers had to destroy their produce during the lockdown, vegetables worth Rs 46 billion were imported from India, Kandel informed.

According to him, during the lockdown farmers were forced to destroy vegetables worth Rs 1.8 million in Makawanpur alone, while some were impelled to sell cauliflowers at just five rupees per kg.

“In Morang, after the farmers started destroying tomatoes, the local cooperative bought the tomatoes at Rs 12 per kg and sold it at Rs 15 a kg back then,” Kandel said, adding, “Most of the farmers destroyed the tomatoes in the fields as they could not avail any market to sell the vegetable.”

He further mentioned that the government did not give priority to even those agricultural produces that were cultivated on government land. Vegetables, locally produced fruits, milk products, meat and livestock products are not getting a market and reasonable price due to which the farmers have been highly affected.

“All stakeholders, including farmers and traders, have been urging the government to arrange a market for local products for a very long time, however, the request has fallen on deaf ears,” Kandel said, adding, “It is the emerging online marketing services that are providing some relief to the small farmers.”

He further said that cooperatives across the country are preparing to utilise the online platform for collection, marketing and sale of agricultural products.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 19, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.