Subsidised rice in food depot costlier than market priceMore than 300 quintals of rice transported to the depot last year are yet to be sold
People in northern Gorkha have stopped buying subsidised rice from a depot of Food Management and Trading Company Limited in Machhakhola, as local traders have been selling the same quality of rice at a cheaper rate.
Around 390 quintals of rice lie unsold at the depot since last year, Nabin Basnet, the Gorkha branch chief of the company, said.
Basnet added the depot could not clear its rice stock even after lowering the price by Rs 2 per kilogram.
After the Machhakhola depot failed to sell the rice, the company has twice slashed the subsidy quota to the region.
“The depot had 2,500 quintals quota last year. We lowered it to 1,800 quintals first and then again to 800 quintals this year,” Basnet said.
The company has decided to hold the supply of rice to the depot until it has cleared its existing stock.
Dhan Bahadur Gurung, a Machhakhola resident, doubts the depot will succeed in selling its rice stock.
“A 30-kg sack of Sona Mansuli rice costs Rs 1,190 in the local market. The depot sells the same rice at Rs 1,350. The people will naturally buy the rice from the market at a cheaper rate,” Gurung said. “The depot should lower the price of rice by Rs 10-12 per kg to attract customers.”
The depot had no shortage of customers until a few years ago when Machhakhola did not have a motor road and goods were transported by mules and porters. Prices of foodstuffs were costlier at the time due to high transportation fare, and most people in the region bought rice from the depot at a subsidised rate.
But with the opening of a motorable track a year ago, prices of daily goods and foodstuffs fell to their normal rates. Soon, the Machhakhola depot fell out of people’s favour, as it did not review its rates.
“We don’t determine the price. We have to sell the rice at the rate fixed by the central office,” Basnet said.
The locals of Lho, Bihi, Prok, Chhekampar, Chumchet and Samagaun villages visit Machhakhola to buy rice and other essentials. Earlier, they used to buy rice from the depot.