November 25: The government seems hardly interested to purchase paddy grown by the farmers with hard work throughout the year. The government is showing no signs of buying paddy from the farmers even three weeks after fixing the minimum support price. Due to the government’s indifference, farmers across the country are forced to sell paddy at throw-away prices.
The state-owned Food Management and Trading Company Limited has been entrusted with the responsibility of purchasing rice at minimum support price from 10 districts that produce abundance of rice. Most of the farmers of Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardia, Banke, Rupandehi, Janakpur, Jhapa and other districts, where the organization always buys paddy, have already sold 50 percent of their paddy at a low price of Rs 1,000 per quintal even before the support price was set. The income earned by the farmers by selling paddy to the businessmen is one third of the support price fixed by the government later.
Farmers, who were hoping to sell the remaining rice at the right price after the government set the support price, were disappointed when the company entrusted to purchase paddy did not make any arrangements to buy the produce. The company, which failed to start the procurement process at the right time, pretended that it has not received any instructions for the of paddy.
Agni Aryal, coordinator of Rajapur Paddy Superzone, says that since the government does not buy rice at the support price, the traders and middlemen take advantage of it. Traders buy paddy from farmers at throw-away prices and produce rice from it and sell it at a high price.
Sharmila Neupane Subedi, information officer of the Food Management and Trading Company Limited said that the procurement process was delayed because of the elections. According to her, the government fixed the support price right before the election and since the employees of the company also had to be deployed for the election, the purchase of paddy did not begin. Although she said that the procurement work will start soon, she could not tell the exact date. She says that the process has been halted because they have not yet received instructions from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies for the purchase of paddy.
Urmila KC, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies on the other hand claims that the ministry has already sent a letter to the FMTCL on November 2 with instructions to purchase the paddy. She said, “We have already corresponded from here, but we do not know why the company delayed the purchase.”
This year, the government has arranged a budget of Rs 33 million to purchase about 300,000 metric tons of paddy at the minimum support price through agricultural cooperatives. The Food Management Company has also set aside Rs 98.91 million to buy 30,200 metric tons of rice.