Chitral - Potato farmers of Garam Chashma valley have been
cheated by the buyers hailing from Afghanistan who were living
in Garam Chashma as refugees and were engaged in potato trade
for some time. It may be noted that potato is a major cash crop
of the valley and is the only source of income for majority of
the people. This year the harvesting season started late due to
blockage of road caused by the
worst floods in history.
When the season commenced one month behind schedule the buyers
picked up the commodity at the rate of Rs.2000/ per bag. Two of
the buyers have disappeared without paying the price to farmers
and have possibly moved back to Afghanistan. The poor farmers
are running from pillar to post looking for them. The Government
appears to have absolved itself of any responsibility forcing
the farmers to reduce the price to Rs.1500/ per bag with a view
to woo the buyers to come back and pay them reduced price so
that they can purchase food items before the arrival of harsh
winter. As the potato had been purchased through local agents,
they are now under compulsion to sell their landed properties to
pay to potato growers while the principal buyers remain missing.
This incident has thrown a challenge to the Government to make
fool proof arrangements to ensure fair price to potato growers
and save them from cheaters. If the Government can make
arrangements to buy farm items through PASCO in the Punjab and
Sindh, why can not it do so for Chitrali potato? What better
poverty alleviation program can there be other than this one,
provided the Government is sincere.
Garam Chashma, 20 Nov 10.
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