Farmers underpaid, shortchanged by traders
FRUIT and vegetable growers, given their limited staying power with perishables, are among the hardest-hit in the economy .The blockade and shut-downs over a long period have put the farmers in double jeopardy. In the first place, gluts of perishable produces have been left to wither in the fields or just dumped to rot. As it is, the farmers have had to resort to distress sales of whatever they could manage to dispose of locally.
In addition to the blow, the supply chain disruptions have jabbed at the growers and consumers alike; they are now having to deal with a new phenomenon of exploitation. The wholesalers, taking advantage of higher transport costs, are cashing in on the abnormal situation in two ways: they are paying low to the growers and marking up prices for the consumers.
In the process, the traders are skimming profits alright apparently making the most of both worlds: shortchanging farmers on the one hand, and having the consumers pay higher prices.
It is at the level of farmers that the fallout is particularly severe and consequential. For, after deducting input, labour, and transport costs and stockists' commission, a potato producer would get Tk 5.5 per kg which does not even cover his production cost. As a result, the growers face hardship in making both ends meet. As if that is not enough of a misery, they are also left with no money to cultivate the next crop. The disincentive casts a shadow over their future.