Self-sufficiency in farm products still a far cry

Published On: October 18, 2016 01:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

JHAPA, Oct 18: Though the government has expressed commitment to creating independent economy at the height of last year's economic blockade by increasing agricultural production and fulfilling the market demand from alternative sources, it has done nothing in this direction so far.

Nepal is importing huge quantity of medicinal herbs, which are found in abundance in the country, from India through the Kakarvitta entry point. 

Medicinal herbs like Rittha and Nagbeli, which can be found aplenty in forests throughout the country, are being imported from India, according to an official of the Mechi Customs Office. Millions of rupees are going to India every month to purchase medicinal herbs and fresh vegetables, among others. “How can we become independent if such situation persists longer?” he wondered.

Though local production can meet demand for paddy, corn, millet and gram, the country is importing huge quantity of cereal and pulses. Export of Nepali farm products like tea, cardamom and ginger is also declining due to various obstacles. This also shows that the government has done nothing toward developing a self-sufficient economy.

According to Plant Quarantine Office, Kakarbhitta, import of farm products from India hasn't dropped a bit after the blockade.  Nepal imports cabbage worth Rs 60 million annually from India through the entry point, the office said.  

Binaya Kumar Sah, a technician at the quarantine office, said Nepal imported farm products worth Rs 3.44 billion from countries like Bangladesh, the US, Canada, China and India in the past year. Nepal imported 3,646 tons of paddy worth around Rs 50 million during the year, he added.

Similarly, Nepal imported 10,049 tons of lentils worth around Rs 970 million in the last fiscal year while it exported Rs 950 billion worth of lentils in the review year. The country imported 3,381 tons of corn worth Rs 80 million, 8,881 tons of millet worth around Rs 220 million and 1,676 metric tons of gram worth around Rs 5.5 million in the review year.

Vegetables like cauliflower, onion, chili, cucumber and tomato, and fruits like grape, mango, watermelon, apple and other agricultural products also come from countries like Bangladesh, Canada, the US, India and China. Potato and other vegetables come from India, garlic from China and India, and fruits from China and India.  

The data shows that the talk of Nepal being a self-sufficient economy is limited in papers.

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