Jhapa, June 24
Paddy farmers in Jhapa have been left in the lurch by delay on the part of the government in fixing the price of their produce.
With the price of paddy yet to be declared, farmers are left to either wait inordinately for the government to fix the price or sell their produce at unreasonably low prices offered by unscrupulous traders.
Paddy farmer Chudaraj Bhattarai said he hasn’t sold his produce as he was offered very less price. ‘Whatever price traders offered me doesn’t even cover my cost, so I had no option but to store up my produce and look to the government to fix the price,’ said Bhattarai, adding that traders are offering a price between Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,800 for a quintal of paddy.
Super zone agriculture officer Sagar Bista admitted that the price below the price being offered was too low.
“As farmers are not getting fair price for their produce — both normal rice and spring rice — they don’t feel the charm in cultivating paddy any more, which is sad,” said Bista, adding some 1,700 farmers cultivated spring rice this year in the Paddy Super Zone in Jhapa this year. ‘The production is up and up every year, but farmers are not happy as they are not getting fair price for their produce,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the government’s lack of interest in fixing paddy price contradicts its own stated target of making the country self-reliant in paddy production.
Earlier, the government, as per its Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, had declared the southern belt of Jhapa a paddy super zone.
The declaration had excited many farmers, but they are now disappointed as they cannot sell their produce with traders setting a ridiculously low price for their produce.
Farmer Uttamlal Ganesh of Kachankawal Rural municipality said the government apathy towards fixing the price of paddy has left farmers at the receiving end.
“The government lured us into paddy cultivation by providing various facilities and taught us methods for increasing production, but now it has left us high and dry without doing the needful to manage the market for our produce. It seems our produce will rot in our godowns,” he said.
Paddy Super Zone in Jhapa comprises all seven wards of Kachankawal Rural Municipality and wards 1, 2 and 3 of Bhadrapur Municipality.
A version of this article appears in print on June 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.