Middlemen eating into paddy farmers’ profitsLast Monday, a few agro traders and middlemen gathered in front of Atithi Sadan in Biratnagar. After nearly an hour of discussions, they came to a conclusion on paddy prices.
Last Monday, a few agro traders and middlemen gathered in front of Atithi Sadan in Biratnagar. After nearly an hour of discussions, they came to a conclusion on paddy prices.
The group fixed the market price of Radha 4 at Rs2,450 per quintal, Rs2,400 for Bans Kanchi, Rs2,500 for Mansuli, Rs3,700 for Basmati and Rs2,500 per quintal for Sona Mansuli. Subsequently on Wednesday, paddy was traded at the same prices in the market.
Every night, the group calls a meeting—locally known as “gola”—at the same place to set prices for the next day. The prices fixed by the “gola” are immediately circulated to buyers. Even the government’s mechanism endorses the prices determined by the traders and the middlemen. “The ‘gola’ practice has been running from a long time,” said one of the middlemen.
Avinash Bohara, former president of Morang Merchant Association, said farmers are at the mercy of the traders and middlemen who fix lower rates at the farmers end as the government does not fix the prices.
These middlemen fix the prices of crops like paddy, wheat, maize, jute, mustard and pulses in line with the price trend in the Indian market. The same prices are also registered at the association. “The association then circulates the prices to its units in villages,” said Bohara.
Tara Kumar Shrestha, director of Regional Directorate of Agriculture, said the Ministry of Agricultural Development does not determine paddy prices. “However, it recommends the Supplies Ministry to fix minimum support price for paddy,” he said, adding even his office relies on prices in the market.
In Jhapa, the country’s top rice producing district, farmers are always confused over paddy prices. “I have harvested my paddy, but I am confused about the price,” said Dilli Karki, a local farmer from Tekra. “We normally sell paddy at prices offered by traders,” he said, adding there is no such mechanism that determines the prices.
Currently, Ranjit Mansuli variety is priced at Rs2,400 per quintal. Prices of Sona Munsuli, Kanchi Mansuli and Basmati stand at Rs2,350, Rs2,200 and Rs4,000 per quintal, respectively.
Meghnath Timilsina, chief of District Agriculture Office, Jhapa, said paddy prices are determined by the market itself.
In Sunsari, farmers have always complained about low paddy prices and middlemen eating up the lion’s share of profit. Arun Chaudhary, a local farmer from Amduba, Sunsari, said he sells 36 quintals of paddy annually. He said the actual price Mota Dhan is Rs2,200 per quintal, but he is forced to sell at Rs2,000. “The middlemen take the rest of the amount.”
(With inputs from Binod Bhandari in Biratnagar, Lila Baral in Jhapa and Bed Raj Poudel in Sunsari)