Farmers worry about dwindling market for locally produced seedsProduction is also on a downward trend despite increased acreage to produce seeds.
Keshav Oli, a local of Musikot Municipality-14, has been producing high quality vegetable seeds for the last two decades. His ten ropanis of farmland are full of onion, cauliflower and garden cress (locally known as Chamsur) plants that are ready to give seeds soon.
Another farmer Lal Bahadur Oli, too, is busy producing high-yielding seeds of vegetables such as cauliflower, onion, peas and garlic in his seven ropanis of land.
Similar to Keshav and Lal Bahadur, several other farmers in Machhimi, Sadhan Chaur, Chautara and Loribang villages in the Musikot Municipality are currently engaged in vegetable seed production.
Each farmer in the region produces vegetable seeds in their farmland ranging from a scale of one ropani to fifteen ropanis, said Narayan Khadka, a local farmer of Musikot-3.
“Producing vegetable seeds is the main occupation of the locals,” said Khadka. “The seeds produced here are sold all over the country.”
According to Agriculture Development Office, West Rukum, along with the locals of Musikot Municipality, the locals of Chaurjahari Municipality Ward No 10,11 and 13, Triveni Rural Municipality Ward No 9 and 10, and Sani Bheri Municipality Ward No 3, 8 and 9 are also producing the vegetable seeds.
This year, vegetable seeds of various species of onion, radish, peas, cauliflower, mustard greens, garden cress, beans and turnip are being produced on 414 hectares of farmland in the district.
“The moderate climate of West Rukum is favourable for the production of vegetable seeds,” said Min Bahadur KC, acting chief of the Agriculture Development Office.
The total production of vegetable seeds in the district stood at 221 tonnes in the fiscal year 2019-20, 118 tonnes in 2020-21 and 117 tonnes in 2021-22.
However, farmers complained that although they have made a huge investment in the seed production, they haven’t received enough technical support.
“The farmers are producing the seeds using indigenous technology and they lack adequate knowledge about the impact of climate change on the soil’s productivity,” said Gopa BM, president of Samasitoshna Unnat Biu Utpadan Sahakari Ltd.
“Because of this, on one hand, production is declining despite the increase in the size of farmland and on the other hand, the seeds are struggling to compete in the market.”
In addition to this, farmers are also facing trouble due to the scarcity of technical manpower in the local bodies.
“We are working on the basis of our local experience and knowledge, we don’t have the knowledge to combat the insect infestation,” said Lal Bahadur Oli.
Local traders collect the seeds produced by farmers and supply them to the agro vets in major markets. But traders are worrying about the dwindling market of the seeds.
“The market size has shrunk as compared to last year,” said Gyan Bahadur Oli, a local trader. “I am afraid that the seeds might get a lower price than last year.”
The seeds produced in the region were even exported to a third nation such as Bangladesh. But now, the demand is declining even domestically, say the farmers.
Farmers are demanding a greater involvement from the local, provincial and central governments to uplift the quality and quantity of seeds produced. Similarly, they also stated that due to the involvement of multiple layers of middlemen, they have been getting unfair prices for their produce.
The officials at the Agriculture Development Office confirmed the farmers’ allegations about the declining production in the district.
Likewise, Mahendra KC, mayor of Musikot Municipality, stated that the local government is committed to addressing the issues raised by the farmers as soon as possible.
The government has set up the Vegetable Seed Production Centre in Musikot-5 to support farmers, who want to start production for the first time by providing improved quality seeds.
The district is self-reliant in providing the necessary improved seeds to farmers, stated Rajendra Pratap Yadav, chief of the Centre.