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Potato farmers defrauded

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. --Islamuddin, Garam Chashma, 20 Nov 10.



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