May 20: As soon as the Indian government imposed a ban on the exports of wheat, its price skyrocketed in the international market. Ironically, Nepali farmers were forced to sell wheat at cheaper rates when the price has been soaring worldwide. Due to the government's failure to announce support price at the right time and traders arbitrarily fixing the price for the farmers' produce, Nepali farmers were obliged to sell wheat at cheap prices even when prices were skyrocketing in the international market.
India banned export of wheat last Friday. According to international media, the price of wheat went through the roof in the world market, marking an increase of 60 percent this year alone. According to the traders, the price of wheat flour even in India went up from Rs 2880 to Rs 3300 per quintal.
No matter how much the price goes up in the world market, Nepali farmers are still devoid from any benefits. Before the government fixed the support price, farmers in some districts of the Terai had already sold wheat at Rs 400 per quintal, which is lesser than the minimum support price set by the government. The government later fixed the support price of wheat at Rs 3,165 per quintal after much delay. However, farmers are not even able to get this price. Till date, farmers of Sunsari, Siraha, Rautahat and other districts are selling wheat at the rate of Rs 2,800 per quintal.
Bhubaneswar Yadav, a representative farmer from Sunsari said, “The government does not buy wheat from these districts. Wheat that we sold to traders at Rs 2,800 is now being sold by traders at Rs 3,600 per quintal. Flour industrialists do not buy wheat directly from us, that is why we are forced to sit idly and watch all the profits reaped by the middlemen.
Farmers of Banke, Bardiya and Kailali have already sold wheat to traders at the rate of Rs 2,800 per quintal. After the farmers sold their produce, the Food Management and Trading Company of the government started buying wheat in those districts. Food procurement centers are deserted as farmers have already sold wheat. Sharmila Subedi, information officer of the state-owned company said that 112 quintals of wheat was purchased in Rajapur of Bardiya, besides which, other procurement centers could not buy wheat at all.
Another farmer Chandra Kant Yadav from Lahan said that he sold 25 quintals of wheat to local traders at the rate of Rs 2,800 per quintal. He expressed, “It is said that the prices have gone up now. We could not even sell at the rate fixed by the government. The Food Management and Trading Company started buying wheat only after we sold it. Now, it is the traders who make profit.”
According to the stakeholders, farmers not getting a fair price for their produce has become a persistent problem. Chairman of the National Farmers' Commission, Dr. Prem Prasad Dangal, says that although the government implemented the concept of support price to prevent farmers from being cheated by traders, the government's weakness itself has posed a challenge to its implementation. “It is a shame that Nepali farmers have to sell their produce at lower rates when prices are rising in the international market,” said Dangal.