Arjun Thapa Magar, 55, from Bajrabarahi village in Thaha Municipality, Makwanpur a vegetable farmer and that’s the main source of income for his 6-member family. He has rented five ropanis of land (2500 square meter) to cultivate a variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes, cauliflowers, capsicum, and cabbage. He used to sell tons of vegetables to different markets in Kathmandu before the lockdown.
With COVID-19 cases spreading rapidly in Nepal during months of late April and May 2021, the Government of Nepal enforced a second lockdown across the country from April 26, 2021. While the lockdown has played a significant role in controlling the spread of the virus, it has severely affected the livelihoods of farmers across the country.
"I had a thriving business before the lockdown. However, after the lockdown, I was unable to take my vegetables and fruits to the market. The traders also could not come to our farms to collect the vegetables and fruits due to the strict restrictions. This was the first time in my life when I had to see tons of vegetable that I had grown with so much effort rot right before my eyes. I was helpless and felt devastated thinking about what would happen," said Arjun.
It was only after the local cooperatives came to his rescue that he took a sigh of relief. Arjun heard from his friends about a mobile market "Sahakari Marfat Tarkari Ko Bajarikan (Vegetable Marketing through Cooperatives)" initiated by the District Cooperative Union in partnership with Sana Kishan Krishi Sahakari, Bajrabarahi. Supported by the Cooperative Market Development Programme, a joint initiative of the Government and UNDP, the mobile market collects vegetables and fruits right from the farms of the farmers.
"I quickly contacted the cooperative union to enquire about this program and started to sell all my produce right from home. So far, I have been able to sell around 10,000 kgs of fruits and vegetables from my farm. This has helped me put food on the table for my family,” said Arjun.
Arjun is just one example. Over 1,000 farmers are currently selling their vegetables and fruits through this mobile market program, as it ensures the farmers get a fair price of their produce while also making sure the consumers get the fresh products at a reasonable price.