Tea entrepreneurs continue facing obstruction at Panityanki border

Published On: May 29, 2018 09:30 AM NPT By: Bhim Chapagain

Prior to this event, India had also obstructed import of Nepali ginger and cardamom

ILAM, May 29: The obstruction in export Nepali tea has continued at the border, leading to severe inconvenience to tea farmers and entrepreneurs. They are still unable to export their products from the eastern border at Panityanki, Jhapa forcing them to use alternative border points that incur more expenses.

After the Indian customs office created hassles to export tea from Panityanki border, many entrepreneurs have turned to Jogbani for the export. However, the Jogbani border, which is around 250 kilometers from tea growing estates, is also not much viable, entrepreneurs say. 

The problem has been ongoing since the past four weeks. Instead of mitigating the problem, the hassles have only increased, according to tea entrepreneur Kamal Mainali, operator of Sakhejung-based Himalayan Shangri-La Tea Producers Pvt Ltd. 

“We have to wait for at least 7-10 days to export a truck load of tea from Panityanki border. They deliberately delay it by asking one after another documents,” he added. “This has forced us to use an alternative route via Jogbani.”

According to Mainali, officials at Panityanki customs point sends sample of tea carried by our vehicles for inspection at their whim. “There is no guarantee when they will send the sample and it'll get approved. It has been really disappointing,” he added. 

Due to this reason, truckloads of tea from entrepreneurs in Ilam, Jhapa, Panchthar and Dhankuta districts have been stranded in Panityanki border for days. Trucks from Ilam-based Tea Producers Pvt Ltd, Kanyam Tea Cooperative and Mangal Green Tea Industry are still in the border awaiting clearance.

Entrepreneurs have requested Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) and the Ministry of Commerce to resolve the issue. However, the issue still remains unsolved, informed the entrepreneurs.

“We shared our problems to the ministry. Yet, the government has not taken any bilateral initiative to resolve the issue,” said Udaya Chapagain, one of the tea entrepreneurs. 

NTCDB Executive Director Shesh Kanta Gautam said the industrialists have informed him of the problem. “However, I have not received the information through official channel.”

According to him, they have requested the Ministry of Commerce to take up the issue with India. “The minister for commerce is visiting India very soon. Hopefully, the minister would seek sustainable solution to all the problems related to agriculture,” added Gautam. 

The obstruction is only visible in Panityanki border and not in other border points, according to the entrepreneurs. Prior to this event, India had also obstructed import of Nepali ginger and cardamom. 

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