Meghalaya govt need to do away with middlemen: Farmers
Farmers from Thynroit, Thadan, Thangsning, and Mawlyngat in East Khasi Hills have urged the government on Tuesday to eliminate the involvement of middlemen and enable farmers to have greater control in setting the price of their agricultural produce.
Speaking to The Northeast Today (TNT), Aibok Kharsahnoh, a farmer, said, “We want the government to open wholesale markets to ensure that farmers get their due earnings without interference from the dealers. It is all about the buyers and sellers.”
Kharsahnoh also informed that farmers are looking at constituting a joint committee that is recognised by the government to fix the prices of agricultural produce. “It is the farmer who should fix the price and not the dealer,” he categorically said, adding that the middlemen interference has often forced farmers to sell agricultural produce far below the retail price.
“Farmers sell cabbage at Rs 5/kg… potatoes at Rs 12 or Rs 10/kg, while the retail price of the same products ranges between Rs 20 to 30; hence, there is a huge difference in prices,” he added.
Kharsahnoh went on to say that the livelihood of farmers has been greatly affected by the current pandemic-induced economic crisis, which, he believes, obligates the government to implement measures that allow farmers to set fairer prices.
He reminded that, in the 1980s, middlemen were unheard of and farmers had direct access to markets, unlike now.
Meanwhile, an official of the Agriculture Department maintained that the government has set up small markets across Meghalaya, including the capital Shillong, to ensure consumers buy produce directly from farmers.
“During COVID, there has been a breakdown in the supply chain and that is what is worrying the farmers. To alleviate their suffering, micro-level markets have been set up because Bara Bazaar, Lewduh is still closed,” the official said under anonymity.
The official further informed that, while the government is keen on ensuring direct access of markets to farmers, the middlemen phenomenon is rampant in Bara Bazaar. Meanwhile, Hill Farmers Union units from Laitkyrhong, Mawryngkneng, and Lewrynghep have decided to collaborate with Integrated Technology Enabled Agriculture Management System (iTEAMS) to take produce directly from farmers.
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