KATHMANDU, March 28: The Food Management and Trading Company Limited (FMTCL) has witnessed a surge in buyers for induction stoves as consumers face shortage of cooking gas in the market.
The induction stoves were gifted by China some four and half years ago when the nation was reeling under acute shortage of fuel due to the Indian blockade.
According to Sarmila Neupane Subedi, spokesperson of FMTCL, more than half of the total stock of induction stoves were purchased by consumers in recent times due to the shortage of LP gas in the market.
“We had a good amount of stock before the shortage of LP gas in our warehouse but after the shortage, the purchase of induction stove has significantly increased,” said Subedi, “We are selling induction stoves from our sales center.”
Due to fear of transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Indian government has announced the lockdown of the country for 21 days. The Indian government has promised not to affect the supply of fuel to Nepal but consumers and merchants are excessively hoarding LP gas which has created shortage in the market.
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has directed the gas bottling companies to sell half-filled cylinders to the consumers in a bid to ease the supply of cooking gas.
As consumers face shortage of cooking gas, induction stoves have become an alternative during the lockdown. Back in 2015, people had experienced acute shortage of petroleum products after India imposed the blockade and most of the people had purchased induction stoves for cooking.
FMTC has been selling the stove for Rs 4,000 per unit. According to Subedi, the stove was sold initially at Rs 12,000 per unit. But the price was lowered to Rs 4,000 per unit as the product failed to attract buyers.
The government had authorized the National Trading Limited to sell the stoves. But FMTCL has been selling them since the merger of National Trading Limited with Nepal Food Corporation. Currently, FMTCL has around 4,000 induction stoves in stock.
“We have received a lot of inquires about induction stoves through phone calls in the past few days. Before the lockdown, people coming to purchase induction stove was significantly increasing but after the lockdown, we get more inquires about it,” said Subedi.
As per Subedi, FMTCL plans to provide home delivery service or sell induction stoves through their mobile vans.
The government has been requesting the general public to use induction stoves to reduce the use of LP gas for cooking. The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation on Thursday directed the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to provide 20% discount on electricity bills up to 150 units for domestic consumers.
The government is also preparing to implement a subsidy plan worth around Rs 1 billion to promote the use of induction stoves.