Rice supply disrupted in Sudurpaschim Province due to contractors’ reluctanceThe contractors have refused to transport goods citing financial losses on the trips they make to the hilly regions.
The hill districts of Sudurpaschim Province are facing a shortage of rice, as the provincial office of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd in Dhangadhi has not eased the supply of food grains to the remote parts of the province.
The company that supplies subsidised rice to the hill districts said that there has been disruption in the supply chain because the contractors are not willing to transport food grains to remote areas.
“We have been requesting the contractors to transport rice to areas affected by the food crisis but they are delaying transportation on various pretexts,” said Injela Basnet, chief at the provincial office of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd in Dhangadhi.
According to Basnet, contractors have refused to transport goods citing financial loss on the trips they make to the hilly regions. “They say they incur losses when they transport goods to remote areas. We haven’t been able to broker a deal suitable to all parties,” she said.
The company claims that there is enough rice stored in the provincial office’s godown in Dhangadhi and that there will be no shortage of rice at the depots of the hill districts.
“We have over 15,000 quintals of rice in stock with us. The quantity of both rice and wheat at the godown is enough to avoid a shortage,” said Basnet. “We are waiting for willing contractors to transport the food grains to the district depots.”
The company has to rely heavily on contractors to supply rice to the rural areas since the company’s depots in far-flung villages do not have enough employees to run their own operation, be it transport or distribution.
In the entire Sudurpaschim Province, the provincial office of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd has employees only in Mangalsen of Achham; Kolti and Martadi in Bajura; and Khandeshowri in Darchula.
“It would’ve been easier if we had employees in every depot. We wouldn’t have to depend on contractors. But it’s hard to find employees willing to work in the remote parts of the province,” said Basnet.
A lot of discrepancies in the supply, management and sales of rice have been reported in the hills of Karnali and Sudurpaschim in the last few years.
In October 2020, police seized a truck carrying 250kgs of subsidised rice at Subbakuna Check Post in Surkhet. The consignment meant for remote Karnali districts was headed to Bhaktapur in Bagmati Province.
Preferring anonymity, one of the employees of the company said, “Most of the contractors sell rice to traders on the way to remote hilly districts. But the concerned authorities are not investigating the matter.”
Basnet said that she is unaware of the ground situation at the depots in the hilly districts. “It’s also the responsibility of the local units to monitor unlawful activities,” she said.