Farmers protest demanding fair price for vegetables

Kathmandu, July 25

Farmers across the country have begun staging protests against the government demanding reasonable market price for agricultural produce, especially vegetables.

Hundreds of farmers today staged protest at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market urging the government to ensure that farmers can fetch better price for vegetables. Similarly, they also asked the government to discourage vegetable imports from India, introduce subsidy packages for farmers and promote and ease export of vegetables to India.

“Majority of vegetables are rotting in the farmlands owing to low demand in the market. Similarly, farmers are paid very low rates for vegetables, which is insufficient to even cover the production cost,” said Tika Abiral, coordinator of the protest committee.

Citing that there exists a huge gap between market price of vegetables and what farmers get, they also urged the government to end the ‘middleman' system in vegetable trading and allow farmers to fix price of their produce themselves.

Meanwhile, the struggle committee of farmers has also handed over their demands at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board (KFVMDB). Among others, farmers have stated that Indian customs have been obstructing vegetable export from Nepal citing different causes, which the government should address as soon as possible.

“If the Indian government obstructs vegetable exports from here, Nepal should also discourage vegetable imports from India,” said Abiral.

Interestingly, Nepal relies heavily on India for agricultural products despite being a country where a majority of population is engaged in agriculture profession. A recent statistics released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives (MoALMC) show that the country imported agricultural products worth more than Rs 72 billion in 2017-18 fiscal year. However, Nepal's export of agricultural produce to India was worth only Rs 12.5 billion during the year.

Following surplus supply in the market, price of major vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflowers and cabbages, among others, have been plummeting since the last one month.

Meanwhile, officials of KFVMDB said that discussions are under way to ensure that farmers get right price for their produce. “We will table the issue at the MoALMC and explore possible ways to address the demands of farmers,” said Binaya Shrestha, deputy director at KFVMDB.

It is to be noted that Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperative Chakrapani Khanal recently vowed to end ‘middleman system' in vegetable trading and assured that farmers would be paid fairly for their produce.