JHAPA, Sept 9: The ban placed on imports of Nepali ginger by India has been lifted from Friday, with the Indian authorities now informing that lab tests on the ginger samples confirm there is no harmful pesticide residue.
With the resumption of the export which was obstructed for over a week, Nepali ginger farmers and traders have heaved a sigh of relief.
Lifting of the ban ahead of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s upcoming official visit to Delhi has brought about a feeling of ease in political circles also. Ginger traders, however, are of the view that Nepal should no longer delay exploring alternative ginger markets as the Indians may make similar moves in the days to come also, citing some reason or the other.
“India has put us to much trouble stopping our ginger in the peak season,” said Chandra Lal Maharjan, a ginger exporter. “So we should now explore alternative markets,” he added.
Indian customs offices stopped clearing Nepali ginger 10 days ago, citing high residues of pesticide and also pointing to the smuggling of Chinese ginger to India via Nepal. With the surprise ban by India, farmers in ginger pocket districts in the eastern region were worried that their ginger would go to waste.
India’s Central Food Department on Friday informed Indian customs offices along the Nepal border that fresh lab reports on Nepali ginger did not show any evidence of pesticide and the Indian customs at Panityanki informed Indian importers accordingly.
The customs officials also informed Nepali officials at Mechi customs.
Indra Budhathoki, general secretary of Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders Association (NGPTA), said, “The importers relayed the information to us after being informed by Panityanki customs and we then sent the ginger to India.”
Five truck loads of ginger was exported Friday via Kakadbhitta point, Budhathoki said.
The commerce treaty between Nepal and India provisions easier imports and exports through the relaxing of customs processes. But the Central Food Department in New Delhi notified all customs offices along the border with Nepal to stop importing ginger from Nepal 10 days ago.
However, government officials in Nepal denied the Indian charge of high pesticide residue and the mixing of Chinese ginger in Nepali exports.
Soon after the ban, Nepal had dispatched ginger samples to India for testing, which was carried out at a food lab in Bangalore.
India is the only export market for Nepali ginger but with increased ginger production in that country and volatile prices the export has been affected adversely. Ginger exporters were unhappy with the government’s inaction.
Other products such as tea and cardamom are also affected by unpredictable Indian treatment of Nepali products which are said to enjoy a competitive advantage. Two-thirds of Nepal’s trade is now with India and over-dependence on that market has caused problems time and again.