Indian ban leaves Nepali ginger rotting

Published On: September 5, 2016 01:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

 -It has been a week since India unilaterally imposed ban on import of ginger from Nepal
-Farmers in Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung and Jhapa to incur losses in millions if the ban continues further
-Gingers are rotting in various store houses as it is perishable
-Farmers refute the allegation of excessive use of pesticide

KATHMANDU, Sept 5: Indian government's decision to impose a ban on import of ginger from Nepal has left the future of Nepal's ginger farming highly uncertain as the southern neighbor is the main market for the product.

Sunday marked the sixth consecutive day of disallowing entry of Nepal's gingers in to Indian markets. Indian side has claimed that gingers being imported from Nepal contain high pesticide residue. They also claimed that Chinese gingers were being imported instead of the ones produced in Nepal.

At present, when the season of ginger production is at peak, India has been insisting on complete ban in the import of ginger produced in Nepal. However, entrepreneurs trying to export their products to India have been told to compulsorily submit lab report for quality check. The already diminishing market of the country's ginger has been shrunk even further by the complication.

Ever since Nepal started commercializing ginger production, India has been Nepal's major buyer. However, India soon started mass production of ginger, making it unnecessary to depend on import to meet its market demand. As a result, India has been steadily decreasing ginger import from Nepal for the past two years, according to ginger farmers and entrepreneurs.

According to the Nepal Ginger Producers and Entrepreneurs Association (NGPEA), farmers and traders of eastern region, especially Jhapa, Ilam, Taplejung and Panchthar have been directly affected by the ban of Nepali ginger in India.

NGPEA had recently sent its team to customs office of Pani Tanki, West Bengal where the officials assured that they would allow import of gingers only if the entrepreneurs produce certificate of lab test to prove that gingers are not poisonous and do not pose any health risk.

Entrepreneurs had then sent truckloads of gingers for lab test in Kolkata. It takes at least one week to get the test result.

However, gingers would not last a week as it is perishable within the duration.

“Gingers perish if we do not take it to the market within two days of its picking,” informed Indra Budathoki, secretary general of NGPEA. “If we have to lab test it during every export, we are sure to completely lose Indian market,” he said, adding that the production of ginger will come to an end if the government does not seek alternative markets for ginger.

India's move to ban ginger without informing Nepal has put farmers and entrepreneurs in a very difficult position.

According to NGPEA, gingers produced from various hills and plains of the country have remained stalled in godowns. Produce from Mechi and Koshi are especially in high risk of being wasted.

Experts have blamed the dependency on a single market for the present problem. “Such kind of problem can occur anytime and hence, we should never rely on a single market,”

Hundreds of tons of ginger have remained idle at store houses in Ilam district. Traders and farmers are clueless on the fate of their farming, according to Govinda Sanjel, a farmer of Soyang, Ilam.

Similarly, farmers in Panchthar are worried as traders have stopped buying their products.

“I have collected more than 50 quintals of gingers from the village,” Radha Krishna Chamlagain, a farmer and a local collector said. “All gingers will get rotten if I would be unable to sell them within a few days.”

Ginger farming in done in more than 3770 hectors of land in Taplejung, Panchthar and Ilam. Farmers are hopeful that the government will take initiative to ease the stalled process of export of ginger to India.

(Our district-based correspondents Raju Adhikari from Jhapa,  Bhim Chapagain from Ilam, Khagendra Adhikari from Taplejung  and  Giriraj Baskota from Panchthar contributed to this article.)

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