Farmers face nationwide lockdown heat

Kathmandu, March 27

Farmers across the country are worried as their produce is not getting a market due to the ongoing lockdown in the country.

Supplies of perishable agricultural products have been affected since the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the country.

Even though the government had said that the movement of vehicles supplying food items would not face any obstruction during the lockdown, the farmers are still facing problems in supplying their produce, said Khom Prasad Ghimire, president of the Federation of Fruits and Vegetable Entrepreneurs.

“The demand of fruits, vegetables and milk has declined as they are perishable items and people cannot store such food items for more than two or three days,” he said. “It is especially the vegetable farmers who are in trouble at the moment.”

He further said that most of the markets are shut and even regular traders are not buying the amount of produce that they used to previously.

Although the government had announced that it would allow the transportation of milk, operation of the vehicles that transport milk from villages to the city areas has been restricted, said Navaraj Basnet, president of Nepal Farmer Group Federation (NFGF).

“Cooperatives are also finding it difficult to collect milk as their vehicles are not allowed to operate during the lockdown,” he said adding, “Milk collection from remote areas has been halted at present.”

Moreover, the lockdown has also hit the poultry farmers.

“Poultry farmers were already fighting for a market price for their produce and now the lockdown has put their businesses at risk,” said Basnet.

Not only meat items but the transportation of animal feed has also been obstructed due to the nationwide lockdown, he added.

Issuing a notice on Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has assured that the movement of vehicles transporting fruits, vegetables, milk, meat items, feed and chicks will be allowed as these goods fall under the basic essentials.

Meanwhile, Basnet said that the lockdown has mostly affected those farmers who have been working on other’s fields.

“Farmers who don’t have their own fields and are working on the basis of daily wages are the ones who have been badly affected due to this lockdown,” he said. As per Basnet, this is an off-season for farming and moreover, other field works have also been halted especially in the Tarai region.

“The trend of working in other’s fields on daily wage basis is mostly popular in Tarai,” he said, “Meanwhile, farmers in hilly regions are still working in their fields partially.”

Due to the concerns related to coronavirus, issues of sugarcane farmers, victims of faulty Garima paddy seeds and poultry farmers have been put in the backburner.