Kailali banana farmers lose out to cheaper imports

Published On: October 29, 2016 09:38 AM NPT By: Yogesh Rawal

TIKAPUR, Oct 28: Farmers of Kailali are worried as their banana is not finding market because of cheaper Indian imports which have flooded the domestic market.

According to Banana Farmers Struggle Committee, Kailali, farmers are on the verge of losing Rs 470 million as they are not finding buyers for their produce. 

Banana farming is done in 625 hectares of land in the district. The district produces around 22,000 tons every year.

Farmers say banana produced in Kailali alone is sufficient to meet half of the total demand of the mid and far western region.

Binod Kumar Shah, coordinator of the struggle committee, said over 1,000 farmers are engaged in banana farming. “The number of people dependent on banana farming could be about 10,000 in the districts,” he said. “The farmers are about to face huge loss as their product at the risk of decaying in farms.”

Shah, who was a teacher before starting banana farming, is a recipient of President’s Farmer Award. Shah has planted bananas in 90 bigha of land.

Local farmers say that the Indian bananas are harmful for human health as they are being imported from India without doing quarantine test. “It is unfortunate that the government is not doing anything to block such imports,” Tekendra Dhami, another farmer, said.

According to World Trade Organization, agriculture products of any type must undergo quarantine test before their imports. 

Nepali traders are importing banana at the rate of Rs 12 for a bunch of 12 pieces. Production cost of Nepali banana is around Rs 25 per 12 pieces.

Farmers fear that import of cheaper bananas from India will drive them out of their profession. They have been putting pressure on the government to allow import of bananas only after conducting quarantine test. Following the pressure, officials at Mahendranagar and Dhangadhi customs offices have started stopping imports that do not have phytosanitary certificates. Farmers have demanded similar action from Rupaidiya Customs Office too.

Another farmer Dipendra Chaudhary said that bananas produced in Kailali are supplied to markets in Bardiya, Banke, Surkhet and Dang districts. “But there has not been any demand from these districts over the past month,” added Chaudhary.

Banana produced in India is cheaper because the Government of India provides different subsidies to farmers. Nepali farmers do not get any subsidy which makes their cost of production higher compared to Indian farmers. 

In the budget speech for Fiscal Year 2015/16, the government has announced to make the country self-reliant in banana farming in the next four years. But no program has been launched to translate it into action.

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