KATHMANDU, April 4: Hundreds of quintals of bean and buckwheat procured from Jumla are lying unsold in warehouse of Nepal Food Corporation (NFC).
Despite inviting tender three times to sell the farm products, NFC, the state-owned food supplier, has not received any bid.
Around 850 quintals of beans and 700 quintals of buckwheat are lying in the warehouse of NFC for over a year. According to NFC Spokesperson Shankar Sapkota, these food products were harvested two years ago. They have remained in the warehouse ever since.
“Though we have not received any bids, we have been selling these products in small quantity occasionally,” Sapkota. “We do get big buyers. But high price tag puts them off.”
Combined cost of these products is above Rs 10 million.
According to officials of NFC, traders do not seem to be aware of the quality of edibles that come from one of the most remote areas of the nation. “We invited tender bids for the first time about five months ago. The second tender notice was published some three and half months ago. The latest tender notice was published in the last month. But we couldn't get any buyer,” Bhesh Nath Neupane, chief of Bagmati Zonal Office of NFC, said.
Neupane also said that their efforts to export beans and buckwheat also failed. “Export of these products to foreign land would have helped both the country and farmers. But it could not happen due to some technicalities,” he added.
NFC officials blame their predecessor for mismanagement of food products procured from Jumla.
NFC has set price of a kilogram of buckwheat at Rs 90 and beans at Rs 145. This reference price means NTC has 700 quintals of buckwheat worth Rs 6.3 million and 850 quintals of beans worth Rs 12.4 million in its warehouse.
Jumla beans can't compete with cheaper imports: Retailers
While 850 quintals of beans lie unsold in the warehouse of Nepal Food Corporation (NFC), Nepal imported 30.2 million kilograms of dried and split beans over the first seven months of FY2017/18.
According to a data provided by the Department of Customs (DOC), Nepal imported beans worth a whopping Rs 2 billion during the period.
Pabitra Bajracharya, chairman of Nepal Retailer's Association, said that expensive Jumla beans cannot compete with cheaper imports. “Price of beans and lentils has fallen drastically compared to Rs 300 per kg some years before. This is why consumers in the Kathmandu Valley are showing less interest to Jumla beans which are expensive than the imported ones,” added Bajracharya.
He also said that Kathmanduites are choosing cheaper alternatives over locally produced products despite knowing that they are healthier.
NFC is fixed price of Jumla beans at Rs 145 per kg, while the average price of imported beans is Rs 66.2 per kg, according to the customs data.