Vegetable import from India continues while farmers lament lack of market

Kathmandu, April 22

While the local vegetable farmers are looking for market during the lockdown period, vegetables are still being imported from India.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies a total of 38,863 tonnes of fresh vegetables have been imported from India during the lockdown period.

As per ministry’s data, a total of 6,289 tonnes of vegetables were imported in the first week of lockdown, which rose to 10,707 tonnes in the second week. While the quantity dropped to 10,222 tonnes in the third week, it surged by 14 per cent to 11,713 tonnes in the fourth week.

At the same time, local farmers have been forced to destroy their vegetables in lack of market. Due to the restriction on vehicular movements, farmers are unable to supply their products in the market, said Nawaraj Basnet, president of Nepal Farmer Group Federation.

“Although the transportation situation has eased a bit, farmers in rural areas are still finding it difficult to supply their products,” he said.

In rural areas, farmers rely on the middlemen to buy their produce and supply it in the market. “But because of the lockdown, buyers have been unable to visit the village farmers to collect the vegetables,” Basnet explained.

Ram Chandra Regmi, a farmer from Chitwan, said, “Vegetables produced in Chitwan, Dhading, Kavre, Dang, Bara and Makwanpur can fulfil almost 75 per cent demand of vegetables in the country.

But every year our vegetables are left to rot in lack of market.”

He further criticised the government for not halting vegetable import from India so that local products could be promoted during this crisis. “The lockdown has dealt a double whammy to farmers — lack of market access and unfair market price due to import from India.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.