RASUWA, July 15: Agricultural products have been entering Nepal from the Rasuwagadhi entry point along Nepal-China border without conducting pesticide test.
Though huge volume of agricultural products is being imported from China through the customs point since 2015, there is no mechanism to test pesticide residue yet, officials say.
Agricultural products worth Rs 3.81 billion have been imported from China through the Rasuwagadhi Customs Office over the first 11 months of Fiscal Year 2018/2019. Data compiled by the customs office shows Nepal imported Rs 3.15 billion worth of apples between mid-July 2018 and mid-May 2019. Second on the list was garlic with Rs 450.17 million of imports followed by walnuts (Rs 60.55 million) and ginger (Rs 20.21 million).
Rasuwagadhi was the only trade route between Nepal and China until last month when Tatopani border resumed operation. However, most of Nepal's trade with China is still done through Rasuwagadhi. Traders shifted to Rasuwagadhi route for trade with China after the northern neighbor closed Tatopani route following the 2015 earthquakes.
An official of Rasuwagadhi Customs Office told Republica that there is no mechanism to test pesticide residue at the customs office. "Though import of agricultural and forest products through the customs point is on the rise, there is no mechanism to test pesticide residue yet," Kuldeep Ghimire, senior plant protection officer, told Republica. He said the imported products are carefully examined before allowing them to enter the country.
"We send samples for lab test only if we suspect something is wrong," Ghimire said, adding: "We know 27 types of pests and three diseases in apples and their symptoms."
It is mandatory for traders to produce phytosanitary certificate to import agricultural products. The customs office issue import permits after traders complete all necessary formalities. "We give clearance only after ensuring that imported goods meet all the requirements prescribed in the permit," Ghimire added.
The customs office implemented provisions relating phytosanitary certificate few months ago only.