Farmers on war path in Panchthar

Phidim, July 21

Tomato farmers in Panchthar today launched a symbolic protest against the government’s failure to make efforts for lifting the ban India has imposed on tomato import.

Farmers of the Hilihang and Yangbarak Rural municipalities that are considered as pockets of tomato production have expressed their serious concern at the lack of government initiatives to end the embargo on Nepali tomatoes and other agro products that India imposed about a month ago.

Agitating farmers, in a show of protest, dumped a huge amount of their produce on Mechi Highway. Crates of tomatoes were strewn on the road in Hilihang’s Bhaluchowk and Mukubung and Yangbarak’s Sunarghumti, Ganeshchowk and Hilihangchowk.

“We were compelled to launch agitation as the government did not bother to take any diplomatic initiative to facilitate the end of the embargo on our product for over a month now,” said farmer PrakashUpreti of Hilihang-1, the leader of the agitation.

“As for now, we’ve started off by putting up a symbolic protest and dumping our produce on thehighway. If the government fails to address our concerns, we’ll have no option other than intensifying our agitation and stage general strike,” said another farmer Lila Dhakal.

Farmers in Yangbarak and Hilihang had switched to tomato farming lured by the high demand of the fruit vegetable and the prospect of better income. “Farmers have even taken loan from banks to cultivate tomato, but as the government hasn’t done anything to resume the export , it’s sure to add to farmers’ financial difficulties,” said farmer BhimWagle.

“To talk about the past, our produce would sell here itself for 20 to 60 rupees per kg, but it doesn’t sell at all, which is sure to cause us a huge loss this time,” lamented AitaraniYonghang.

The data with the District Agriculture Development Office of Panchthar showed tomatoes worth 32.8 million rupees were exported from Hilihang and Yangbarak rural municipalities alone in the last fiscal.