KATHMANDU, Feb 24: People involved in the trade of black cardamom have urged the government to hold talks with authorities of India and Bangladesh to facilitate the export of the cash crop.
According to Federation of Black Cardamom Entrepreneurs of Nepal, the country produces around 6,000 tons of black cardamom and about 95% of total production is exported to India. As domestic consumption is nominal, rest is exported to Bangladesh as well as different Gulf countries.
Officials of the federation say high tariffs imposed by India and Bangladesh and exorbitant cargo fare to Gulf countries was making Nepali black cardamom expensive in key markets. “Citing increased production in India, India has increased customs valuation of Nepali black cardamom which makes our product less competitive in the Indian market," Raj Kumar Karki, president of the federation, told Republica.
According to Karki, Indian authorities have increased customs valuation of Nepali black cardamom to Indian Rupees (IRs) 500 per kg, up from previous valuation of IRs 350 per kg. "High valuation attracts high amount of money as Goods and Services Tax (GST),” Karki said, adding that the Nepali farm product was losing its competitive edge in its key market.
Bangladesh – another potential market for Nepali farm products – has been levying 35% customs duty on Nepali black cardamom even though it provides duty free facility to farm products from Bhutan. "If it were not for the discriminatory tariffs, we would have exported around 50% of our total productions to Bangladesh," added Karki.
Long-haul markets in the Gulf region do not look feasible for farmers as they have to pay cargo fee of Rs 105 per kg. "High cargo fare makes our product less competitive in the Gulf region," he added.
According to a report entitled National Sector Export Strategy of Black Cardamom 2017-21 released by the Ministry of Commerce in March, 2018, Nepali black cardamom is losing its share in the world market because of its failure to compete with the products from countries like India, Guatemala, China and Vietnam.
The value of Nepal's black cardamom exports rose from US$ 7,440,000 in 2004 to $39.4 million in 2013. Since 2006, direct exports of black cardamom from Nepal to markets like Singapore, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have fallen to less than 1% of total productions, according to the report.
As of now, Nepal is the world's largest producer of black cardamom. India and Bhutan are among other major producers of this farm product.
Karki requested the government to hold high-level talks with India and Bangladesh to ensure easy access of this farm product in these high potential markets.