Print Edition - 2014-05-24 | MONEY
Police arrest 17 agitating Jhapa tea farmers
May 23, 2014-
Police on Friday attested 17 small tea farmers who have been staging a sit-in at Jhapa District Administration Office for the last week demanding the implementation of an agreement reached four years ago to review the prices of green tea leaves.
A tripartite agreement was reached between the political leaders, tea producers and other stakeholders at the DAO in 2012 to formulate a guideline to review the prices. However, the agreement has not been implemented yet. Irate farmers have warned of halting tea plucking and selling if tea producers do not pay heed to their demands.
The agitating farmers on Friday vandalised trucks carrying tea leaves at Jhapa district headquarters Chandragadi. “The police intervened and arrested 17 farmers, including Small Farmers Tea Entrepreneurs Association President Mohan Chandra Regmi,” said Purna Karki, president of the tea farmers struggling committee. DSP Himalaya Shrestha said they took control the protestors under control after the trucks were vandalized. “The police will take action as per the law.”
However, the farmers claimed the police charged batons despite their peaceful protest. “We had just thrown out the tea leaves from the trucks headed towards tea factories,” said Prakash Adhikari, a protestor. “Around seven farmers
were injured in the incident,” he said.
Small tea farmers in Jhapa have been protesting at the district headquarters for the last week demanding a raise in prices of green tea leaves.
They submitted a memorandum detailing their demands to the District Administration Office on May 5. The tea growers said they would intensify their protest if their demands were not met by May 28.
Three years ago, leaders of various political parties and workers unions had agreed to fix the rate of green tea leaves by forming a guideline, but it did not happen.
Karki said that they had submitted a one-point demand to the district administration to introduce the guideline to fix the price of tea leaves. “We will continue our protest until the guideline is formulated.”
Prices of green tea in India start from Rs 24-31 per kg. In Nepal, it is sold for Rs 10-15 per kg.
“Small tea farmers are getting a very low rate for their tea leaves,” Karki said, adding that if the farmers were paid as per the guideline, they would receive up to Rs 22 per kg. “And it will be a big relief for them.”
Chief District Officer of Jhapa Yek Mani Nepal said that it was a matter between the small farmers and traders, and that the administration had nothing to do with it.
Published: 24-05-2014 09:19