Farmers forced to destroy produce due to lack of market

Kathmandu, April 3: Farmers have started destroying their agricultural products as they have not been getting a market due to the coronavirus.

Milk producers have also started throwing away their milk on the roads as a protest against the government for not securing a market for their products. Recently, farmers from Kapilvastu threw milk on the road while farmers in Nawalparasi and Rupandehi distributed the milk free of cost.

As per Araniko Rajbhandari, former president of Nepal Dairy Association, around 50,000 litres of milk has been destroyed so far.

“Milk consumption has declined drastically and we have not been getting a market even though the government has eased transportation restrictions for us,” he said. “The largest consumers like hotels, restaurants, tea and coffee shops and sweet shops are closed at present due to which consumption has declined,” he added.

Moreover, companies producing milk powder have also refused to collect milk as they have to clear their previous stock and they do not have any more capacity, Rajbhandari further said.

“Fresh milk consumption has declined and factories producing milk powder are of low capacity due to which we are compelled to destroy our production,” he said, adding, “Most of the industries have stopped collecting milk.”

The milk powder plant in Chitwan, which is the largest in the country, has a capacity to process around 100,000 litres of milk per day, while the other two plants located in Biratnagar and Pokhara can process only 40,000 to 50,000 litres of milk per day.

“We are trying to reopen Chitwan milk powder plant that has been closed due to the lockdown to cope with this situation,” Rajbhandari added.

As per him, March and April are the months when milk consumption generally increases.

Meanwhile, vegetable farmers are also destroying their products as they have not been able to sell their produce in a smooth manner as the markets are only partially open.

In such a situation, the farmers do not have any other option, said Navaraj Basnet, president of Nepal Farmer Group Federation (NFGF).

According to him, farmers in the Tarai region have been more affected than those in the hilly region. If the situation prevails longer then destroying products will be the only option for farmers as vegetables are perishable items and small farmers do not have access to cold stores.

“Seasonal vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage are rotting in the fields as farmers have not been able to supply the vegetables to the market,” he said, “So they do not have any option other than to destroy their products.”

Amid this, vegetable supply in the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market has also declined.

According to Binaya Shrestha, information officer of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, vegetable supply in the market has dropped as all hotels and restaurants are closed at the moment. Most of the retail shops are also closed due to the lockdown, hence, vegetable supply in the market has declined.

“Earlier, around 900 to 1,100 tonnes of vegetables used to be supplied to the market while currently hardly 700 tonnes of vegetables are entering the market,” he said.


A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 04, 2020 of the Himalayan Times.