Lockdown adversely affecting vegetable farmers in DhangadhiWhile the farmers are compelled to throw away their vegetables due to lack of buyers given the lockdown, consumers are compelled to buy vegetables from middlemen at exorbitant prices.
Ever since the government enforced the nationwide lockdown to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19, Mundre Chaudhary has been selling cauliflowers that he grew in his farm for as less as Rs 10 per kilogram. On Friday, Chaudhary, a vegetable farmer in Pathariya of Dhangadhi Sub Metropolis, returned home empty handed, as he could not sell even a kilo of cauliflowers.
“I fed cauliflowers to my cattle today since nobody bought my vegetables. I fear I’ll have to do the same tomorrow,” he said.
Chaudhary has been commercially farming vegetables in his 10 katthas of land for the last seven years. It is his only source of income.
“The lockdown has greatly affected farmers like me,” said Chaudhary, “I couldn’t even break even this season. I had invested Rs 200,000 to cultivate cabbages and cauliflowers in five katthas of land. This is the peak selling time but I haven’t been able to sell my vegetables.”
Chaudhary has also cultivated chilly, cucumber, gourd and pumpkin, among other vegetables, in the remaining five katthas of land.
“Sales of these vegetables are also low. I am not getting good prices for them,” said Chaudhary.
Like Chaudhary, more than a dozen commercial vegetable farmers in Pathariya Village are facing the same problem. Bir Bahadur Chaudhary, a retail vegetable seller, said the wholesalers have started selling vegetables themselves.
“This has hampered retailers like us. The situation worsened after Covid-19 cases began surfacing in the district,” he said.
While farmers are compelled to throw away their vegetables due to lack of buyers given the lockdown, consumers are compelled to buy vegetables from middlemen at exorbitant prices.
“We have been purchasing cabbages and cauliflowers at around Rs 45 per kilogram, which is much higher than the normal rate. The prices of gourd, pumpkin, potato and onion are also high now,” said Tara Devi Joshi, a resident of Dhangadhi. “Consumers have been forced to pay the rate fixed by the shopkeepers.”
Hari Prasad Regmi, chairman at the National Consumer Forum in Dhangadhi, said the middlemen are purchasing vegetables from farmers at a very low cost and selling them to consumers at a high price.
“We are going to monitor the market in coordination with the representatives of the local units and the administration,” said Regmi, adding that both farmers and consumers are being affected by the current situation.