Retailers, middlemen join forces to squeeze farmersRetailers have made a pact with middlemen not to buy farm produce directly from farmers, leaving them at a disadvantage as they are not adequately compensated for their crops.
Retailers have made a pact with middlemen not to buy farm produce directly from farmers, leaving them at a disadvantage as they are not adequately compensated for their crops.
The middlemen provide services like helping with transportation and sourcing vegetables from various producers during times of shortages, and retailers are happy to do business with them. The farmers are the losers.
Farmer Dilprasad Timalsina of Karkitar found he could not sell his produce in the market despite the low prices due to the arrangement between middlemen and retailers. But he found that he could sell them easily by enlisting the services of an intermediary.
“At the end of the day, all our sweat and hard work go unrewarded,” said Timalsina. “We are compelled to sell at lower prices and all the profits go to them.”
The intermediaries buy from the farmers directly from their farms and sell at high prices to the same retailers who refuse to buy from farmers directly.
“Consumers pay around Rs135 for cauliflower which we sell for Rs60,” said Nilprasad Dhungana, a farmer in Chautara, “This way, both farmers and consumers are being cheated.”
Farmers complained that they get paid very little for their harvests while consumers are being overcharged.
“Retailers don’t buy from us even though we charge very low prices,” said Jhamka Mahat, president of the Kalidevi Vegetable Farmers Group, “They stick to their agreement with middlemen. The extra layers in the supply chain pocket most of the money.”
Mahat claimed that prices have been marked up by up to 120 percent when the products reach consumers.
Such market anomalies are seen especially in villages near Chautara in Sindhupalchok like Syaule, Karkitar, Barhabise, Lamosanghu and Dolalghat.
Karkitar village contains 70 households engaged in agriculture and their annual turnover amounts to Rs30 million. Vegetables are grown on 75 percent of the cultivable land in Karkitar.
These villages do not have direct access to markets, and middlemen take advantage of the situation by offering overpriced transport facilities to retailers.
Furthermore, since retailers refuse to buy from farmers, they have no option but to sell their harvests to middlemen at prices dictated by them.
Farmers in these villages believe that they should form a union and eliminate the middlemen. Mahat of Farmers Group said that the establishment of a collection centre nearby would solve these problem for farmers.
“However, we have to start planting immediately during each season, and we have no free time to open a collection centre,” said Mahat, “We farmers are busy throughout the year, and intermediaries have been taking advantage of this.”
Farmers also say that they do not have sufficient equipment. “We need digital weighing machines, warehouses and motor vehicles to open such a centre,” said Mahat.