Volunteers delivering fresh vegetables to people's homes at farm priceLocals said the social work being done by the youths had provided them much relief.
A group of young volunteers have started delivering fresh vegetables to the homes of consumers in Ghorahi at farm price in response to complaints that the local chamber of commerce was charging too much for transport.
Since people are confined to their homes due to the lockdown and cannot go out to buy fresh produce, the youths associated with the Ujyalo Bihani Foundation have been collecting vegetables from farmers by going to their fields and delivering them to the local residents as per their requirements.
The youths are bringing vegetables to the people's doorsteps at prices charged by the farmers without extra cost. Locals said the social work being done by the youths had provided them much relief during the lockdown.
The volunteers have been delivering cucumber for Rs20 per kg while the chamber charges Rs50 per kg. Householders pay Rs65 per kg for bitter gourd while the chamber charges Rs140 per kg.
Tomato costs Rs60 per kg compared to Rs25 per kg, squash Rs20 per kg compared to Rs40 per kg, and green beans cost Rs45 compared to Rs100 per kg when bought from the chamber.
Narayan Prasad Bhusal, president of the Dang Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that they had started reviewing the prices in coordination with the farmers after receiving complaints about the high price of vegetables delivered by the chamber. Prices of fresh produce fluctuate daily, and they drop when demand is less, he said.
Girirodan Mahara, president of the foundation, said youths started delivering vegetables voluntarily after learning about the vast difference in farm and market prices.
“The lockdown has made it hard for low-income people to buy vegetables as they have become dear. When we went to the farmers' fields, we found that the vegetables were being sold very cheap,” he said.
The volunteers have been buying gasoline by taking up a collection, he said. They are using five scooters and motorbikes and two vehicles to home deliver vegetables, he added.
According to Mahara, Bai Service, Dang Chamber of Commerce, Ghorahi sub-metropolitan-15 and some people have pledged to help the youths. The commitment from different organisations and people has motivated them, he said.
The youths have developed an online form which allows consumers to place their order by entering their name, address, contact number and the required vegetables. Many people are placing their orders by phone and text message, he said.
"The youths launched the service in an effort to help low-income people by delivering vegetables at cost, but some of them do not understand that it is voluntary, and sometimes give them a hard time," he said.
“Some people demand that we carry the vegetables up to the third floor, and do not even come down to pick them up. They act as if they are ordering from a store. We are not doing business. Asking the volunteers to do extra work has made them tired,” he said.
Some times the farm price increases by the time the order is processed, but the volunteers deliver the vegetables at the listed rate even though they have to suffer losses, he added.
“Our aim is to help the helpless, and that is why youths are serving them. But wealthy families make extra demands which creates problems,” he said.
The youths are delivering vegetables to 250 houses daily. Earlier, the foundation distributed relief packages to poor families and provided free meals to stranded labourers.
After the market opens as usual, the campaign will be stopped, he said. “We do not want to create difficulties for small traders who are earning a living by selling vegetables,” he said.
Bhusal said it would not be possible to sell vegetables at cost price regularly, but the youths who are serving society with good intentions can be an example for many.
“At this time of the pandemic, consumers are getting good help from the youth as they are delivering products at farm price,” Bhusal said. "The farmers also have a market for their produce, but this will not be possible all the time," he added.