June 20: Farmers have been forced to sell paddy to traders at half the support price set by the government as the state-owned Food Management and Trading Company Limited (FMTC) did not buy paddy this year.
The government had set the minimum support prices with the aim to support the farmers. The government had fixed the price of medium paddy at Rs 2,885 per quintal and coarse paddy at Rs 2,735 per quintal for the fiscal year 2077/78. However, as the company has not shown any interest in purchasing paddy, the farmers say that they have to sell paddy at Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,500 per quintal.
Bhubaneswar Yadav, a Sunsari-based farmer, expressed his dissatisfaction as he had to sell his paddy at Rs 1,500 per quintal. He says that the government has fooled them in the name of support price.
“We had harvested paddy in such a large quantity with the hope that we will get a reasonable price as the government had fixed the minimum support price. But after selling the paddy in such a throw-away price, our hard work has gone in vain,” he told New Business Age.
Similar is the situation of other farmers like Yadav. Agni Aryal, coordinator of Rajaur Paddy Superzone, said that although the production of paddy has been good in Bardiya this year, the farmers have not been able to get a fair price. According to him, the farmers of Bardiya are selling paddy at Rs 1,400 per quintal.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development informed that out of the total cultivable land of 1.35 million hectares, paddy has been cultivated in more than 100,000 hectares of land in Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa, Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi, Chitwan, Dang, Banke, Bardiya and Kailali districts this year.
According to the ministry, the state-owned company has not been able to buy paddy from the farmers as the procurement target of the government is already met. Information officer of FMTC Sharmila Neupane Subedi also said that they cannot buy paddy as the target has already been met.
The company had initially set a target of purchasing 60,000 metric tons of paddy for the fiscal year 2077/78. However, as the quantity could not be procured, the target was revised to 34,700 metric tons. The target has been reduced as the minimum support price set by the government is higher than the market price and the company has to bear loss when they have to sell paddy at the subsidized price.