PANITANKI (INDIA), July 19: Ginger exports from the eastern customs point of Kakarbhitta resumed Wednesday after a hiatus of 19 days.
At least 50 trucks carrying ginger from Nepal arrived in the bordering Indian town of Panitanki on Wednesday. More trucks are at the Nepali customs yard waiting for the customs formalities to complete.
However, India has started levying 5 percent GST on ginger imports from Nepal. Earlier, the southern neighbor was not levying any charge.
“It will now be difficult for Nepali ginger to compete in the Indian market,” Narendra Kumar Khadka, president of Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders Association, told Republica. “Imposition of GST has made Nepali ginger less competitive. Also, there is always the risk of export coming to a halt without any reason whatsoever.”
However, Indian officials have requested Nepali traders and officials not to have any such worries. “There was some problem due to technical problem in our server and the GST code because of which goods could not pass across the border,” Hare Ram, an official at Indian customs office at Panitanki, said. “There will not be any obstruction to vehicles if traders have all the documents.”
Though Indian officials like Hare Ram says that export was affected due to server error, other Nepali goods like cardamom, tea and other agricultural products were entering without any hindrance. Only the export of ginger was halted for 19 days.
India brought ginger import from Nepal to a halt from July 1, citing GST. Though Nepali traders and officials made repeated requests to resume imports, the Indian customs officials said they were facing problem due to GST code and server error.
Many traders say that ginger worth millions of rupees has rotted. “Ginger in my truck is stinking. I don't think it is in a good condition,” he said.
It is surprising to note that the government is not making any efforts to find alternative market for Nepali ginger even though export to India is being halted time and again.
Ginger production in eastern Nepal is rising at a healthy rate. But the perennial problem in exports is costing farmers and traders dear.
Last year, India had halted ginger exports in the main harvesting season for two months, stating that Nepali ginger has high pesticide residue and that Nepali traders were exporting Chinese ginger in the name of Nepali product. India had resumed export after lab tests showed that Nepali ginger do not have pesticide residue.
Sources say Indian officials halt imports from India time and again on the pressure of Indian ginger growers. “It is natural for the Indian officials to take side of their farmer. So, halt in imports is not going to end in the future too,” Bishnu Rai, a Nepali trader, told Republica. “The present mess was created by the Indian officials to support Indian farmers.”
However, finding new market for Nepali ginger will not be easy. When India stopped ginger imports from Nepal for two months last year, experts had requested the government to open ginger processing plant in the country and export processed ginger to other countries. But everyone forgot the processing plant once India resumed ginger imports.
“We can make different products by processing ginger and export them to other countries. Unfortunately, the government is not showing any interest in this direction,” Ram Chandra Adhikari, a former government official, said. “Unless we look for alternatives, we will have to face problem in exports of ginger,” he added.