Bogus paddy seed taking toll of Dhading farmers

Dhading, November 15

Paddy in their fields has farmers worried in Dhading.

Some paddy plants are ready to be harvested, some are about to bear grains while others have wilted and shown no sign of bearing rice grains.

Quake-hit farmers had planted paddy from the rice seed provided to them as grant at Benighat, Kumpur, Gajuri, Dhusha, Tripureswor and Satyadev in the district.

Farmers complained that the problem arose in the paddy plants’ yielding of rice grain after Small Farmers Cooperative Institution at the district headquarters distributed not paddy seedsm but rice meant to be consumed.

The farmers had filed an application at the District Agriculture Development Office, DAO and Ministry of Agriculture about the paddy one-and-a-half months ago.

District Disaster Rescue Committee Dhading had formed a four-member probe committee led by technical assistant Durgadutta Panthi from the district agro office a few days later.

International non-governmental organisation OXFAM had agreed to provide 20 kg paddy seeds to each farmer through Small Farmers Cooperative at a meeting of the disaster committee after the earthquake struck the country.

The cooperative had distributed paddy seeds to as many as 6,188 farmers in six VDCs. OXFAM Nepal had chipped in Rs 5.6 million to the cooperative for seed distribution.

The probe committee has discovered that the cooperative had submitted a bill showing that it had procured and sold 122,980 kg of seed to farmers in six VDCs. Of them, the cooperative had purchased 17 tonnes of seeds from Duwadi Agrovet, while the rest was bought from Chitwan.

The probe, however, states that the cooperative had distributed seeds from plastic sacks with fake labels.

Uttam Kandel, a farmer from Gajuri-1 said that farmers who were provided with seeds from plastic sacks were hit hard.

Another farmer Raj Kumar Thaplaiya from Kumpur-3 said that the cooperative had betrayed farmers by distributing not paddy seeds but

simply paddy grains not suitable for plantation, in the name of relief. A senior agro officer at District Agriculture Development Office pledged to punish the cooperative and not to assign any other programme to it in future.