KATHMANDU, Feb 1: Organic farmers and entrepreneurs in the country are facing an uphill battle to sell their products overseas as foreign accreditation of their products is expensive.
Organic farmers and entrepreneurs have been using the services of international agencies to certify their products. “Bringing in a team for accreditation is very expensive as the payment needs to be made in dollars,” said Shanta Baskota Koirala, the general secretary of Organic Association Nepal. “The company asking for the certification needs to cover airfare, accommodation, inspection charges in dollars which makes the process really expensive.”
Handful of entrepreneurs and companies are operating their businesses in Nepal with international certification. Organic entrepreneurs say that the government needs to step in to encourage both farmers and entrepreneurs' involvement in the sector. “If the government provides subsidy for accreditation, then the entrepreneurs would benefit,” she told Republica, adding that the government should build a lab for examination of organic produces to minimize the cost.
Certifications produced in Nepal are not valid in the global arena and entrepreneurs are required to produce international certification for their products to be sold globally. “We need to follow their standardization system in order to export our products,” Yam Bahadur Rai, the owner of Himalayan Nepal Tea Hub said.
“If the government helps in the accreditation process and lets the farmers focus on mass production instead of producing limited agricultural products, then the products can be sold for a cheaper price,” Shanta said, “One of the reasons for the high price of organic products is because of the accreditation expenses and lack of lab tests in Nepal.”
Meanwhile Susheela Basnet, owner of Annapurna Satu Udyog has been selling organic products made out of barley, chickpeas, soybeans and corn. “We use traditional hand-held grindstones to produce products sourced from Jumla, Dailekh and Gorkha districts,” Basnet shared.
Despite the availability of organic products in the domestic market, the price factor makes the consumers think twice before buying the products. “I go for organic products sold at reasonable prices,” said Rana Bahadur Shakya, a resident of Patan, “But they are generally priced very high and we don't even know if they are authentically organic.”
Organic Agro Fair starts
The 4th Organic Agro Fair has started in Lalitpur from Friday. The fair is jointly organized by Organic Association Nepal, and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Research Center in collaboration with the Trade and Export Promotion Center under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies at Patan Museum premises.
Shanta Baskota Koirala, the coordinator of the fair said that the program has become a bridge for health conscious people and entrepreneurs. The fair features 50 stalls with organic and natural produces. Products like tea, coffee, juice, vegetables, pickle, organic fertilizers, mushroom, dairy products, herbal products, spices, rice, wheat, maize, lentil, buckwheat, fruits, seeds, honey, oil, and other agricultural products are featured in the fair.
According to the organizers, the fair aims to bring producers and consumers under one roof and to make organic produces available at reasonable prices. The four-day fair will conclude on February 3.