Published On: April 2, 2023 09:30 AM NPT By: Dilip Poudel
KATHMANDU, April 2: Hemraj Devkota, owner of Swadeshi Honey and Bee Trade Center in Sarlahi, is worried due to the lack of honey sales. Six and a half tons of honey produced by Devkota at his bee farm has not been sold.
"The honey produced last year has been sold this month," said Devkota, "I don’t know when the honey produced this year will be sold." Devkota, who has been rearing honey bees for 25 years, is facing the problem of honey not being sold for the first time. "Honey could not be sold due to imported honey," he said.
Devkota is not the only farmer facing problems due to lack of sales of locally-produced honey. Beekeepers across the country are worried about a decline in the sales of honey. Farmers complain that domestic honey is not sold due to imported honey from India.
According to the Federation of Nepali Beekeepers, honey is being imported from India not only through legal channels but also through illegal channels. About 3,000 metric tons of honey have not been sold, said Shiva Prasad Paudel, outgoing president of the federation. "Honey produced last year has not been sold yet. This is due to increasing import of honey from India.”
He said that due to cheap customs duty and illegal import of honey, the products here are not able to compete with imported honey. Paudel has about 35 quintals of honey in stock waiting to be sold.
According to the current market price, the price of that quantity of honey is more than Rs 1.6 million. "We are facing a lot of problems due to the lack of sales of honey. In 20 years of experience, there has never been a shortage of market for honey," said Paudel,
Honey is being imported from India at Rs 211 per kg. The production cost of honey in Nepal is about Rs 400 per kg. According to the federation, the wholesale price of honey is Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kg and the retail price is Rs 700 to Rs 800. The federation estimates that about 7,000 metric tons of honey is consumed annually in Nepal.
Similarly. 4,000 metric tons of honey is produced in the country. Customs data shows that about 1,400 metric tons were imported into the country. Officials of the federation claim that the rest of the honey comes from illegal channels. "As honey is being imported through legal and illegal channels, the honey produced here locally is not being sold," said outgoing president Poudel.
Last year, honey worth Rs 304 million was imported. This year, 500,292 kg of honey worth Rs 117.8 million rupees has been imported as of February. Poudel, the outgoing president of the Federation, said that although the data of import is not very large, honey is being imported illegally. "Illegally imported honey is being sold in the market. Nepali products can get a market only by stopping illegal imports and increasing customs duty," he said.
Since Nepal's honey is of good quality, some of it is also exported. In the eight months of the current year, honey worth Rs 13.9 million has been exported to Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and America.
Farmers have demanded to increase the customs duty rate of honey imported from abroad. Currently, the customs duty of honey imported from SAARC countries is only nine percent. "We have demanded to increase the customs duty of honey to 60 percent," Poudel, the outgoing president of the federation, said.
About 10,000 farmers are involved in beekeeping in Nepal. Chitwan, Makwanpur, Sarlahi, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Dang, Kailali, Palpa, Baglung, Parbat, Kaski, Jajarkot and other districts have been involved in commercial beekeeping. Government officials say that in order to promote the market of Nepali honey, it is necessary to create a 'brand' and spread the word.
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