JHAPA, Sept 21: At a time when the international market of Nepali agro products is shrinking, the government has discouraged farmers by creating unnecessary hassles on export of ginger.
The Department of Agriculture recently issued a circular to line agencies, stating that traders must produce a recommendation letter issued by the concerned District Agriculture Development Office to export ginger. Exporters say the decision has made ginger export more complicated and time consuming.
Earlier, the exporters were required to produce only the Certificate of Origin (CoO) for the export.
"The new provision will discourage exporters. We will protest the government decision," exporters say. They have termed the decision as a ploy to squeeze the market of Nepali farm products.
However, officials of the Ministry of Agriculture Development claim that the provision of recommendation letter was introduced to discourage the foul play which recently forced India to ban ginger imports from Nepal. “The recommendation from the District Agriculture Development Office will help to ensure that the ginger is produced in Nepal, is of good quality and disease-free," they said.
Shyam Subba, a ginger exporter, said it took him two days to get the recommendation letter for export. “We went to the quarantine office in Kakarbhitta for quality test. But officials there told us to bring recommendation letter from the District Agriculture Development Office first,” Subba added.
Many ginger laden trucks have been stopped at the border as the quarantine office has refused to issue quality certificate without the recommendation of the District Agriculture Development Office.
The District Agriculture Development Offices are in district headquarters and ginger is mostly produced in villages. This means either the farmer or the trader should travel to the district headquarters for the recommendation, according to the exporters. "There is also difficulty in travelling to district headquarters, while bringing ginger from hilly region," they added.
Indra Bahadur Adhikari, the general secretary Nepal Ginger Producers' Association, said that the new decision was not acceptable as it has created more troubles after India's restriction on Nepali ginger export. He argued that the right to issue CoO is with the Mechi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "The latest government decision shows that the government does not trust the local chamber," he said, adding that CoO itself proves that the ginger is produced in Nepal.
Some weeks ago, India restricted the entry of Nepali ginger, claiming that it has pesticide residue. But India lifted the ban after lab tests conducted in India confirmed that there is no harmful chemical in Nepali ginger.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development has formed a six-member committee led by under secretary Pradhumna Raj Pandey to study problems in ginger exporters. It has been asked to study Kakarvitta, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj customs offices to find out problems in ginger exports.
According to the government data, ginger is cultivated in 23,825 hectare of land across the country. The country produces 245,546 tons of ginger annually. Commercial farming of ginger is done in eastern hilly districts like Shankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Terhathum, Dhankuta, Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung.