Middlemen accused of taking lion’s shareMiddlemen have been taking the lion’s share in the sweet orange value chain, with consumers being overcharged and farmers getting very little for their produce, say locals.
Middlemen have been taking the lion’s share in the sweet orange value chain, with consumers being overcharged and farmers getting very little for their produce, say locals.
The price of sweet orange has doubled to Rs80-90 per kg from Rs40-50 in one year. Middlemen buy sweet oranges for Rs3-4 apiece, and by the time the fruits reach the retail market, the price has increased three to four times, said Nilhari Dahal, a local customer. “Middlemen have been raking in huge profits with very little effort.”
Locals said that middlemen visit orange groves and buy the entire crop in advance. This has allowed them to set their own prices for the fruit. Sindhuli is the key pocket area for sweet oranges. The fruit is harvested during the December-January period.
It would be acceptable if farmers made more money, but middlemen have been pocketing all the profits, said Dahal. Due to its sweetness, customers are ready to pay any price for the citrus fruit.
Most of the vehicles departing from Sindhuli are carrying sweet oranges. Fruit traders, most of them from the Tarai, visit the orchard and offer to pay Rs4 apiece, said Hasta Bahadur Magar, a local farmer.
Magar added that even if he had to buy the fruit from the village, it would cost him Rs5 each. Most of the places where sweet oranges are grown are now connected by road.
However, retailers cite high transportation costs as the major reason behind the jump in prices when the shipment reaches the market. Local consumers said that authorities had not taken any action to control overcharging by middlemen. Sindhuli produces 15,000 tonnes of sweet oranges annually on 1,500 hectares, according to the Sweet Orange Development Association.
Ratanchura, Tinkanya, Bitijour, Baseshwor, Majhua and Dumja villages are the top sweet orange producing villages in the district. The key market for sweet orange is Sindhulimadi, the district headquarters. Nearly 45 villages in the district are suitable for growing sweet oranges.