Relief for medicinal herbs exporters as India revises quarantine list

Published On: November 6, 2019 08:37 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 6: Nepali medicinal herbs have been relieved from entry restriction to Indian market after the southern neighbor enlisted a large number of products in its quarantine list.

The Indian government recently included 47 types of Nepali herbs and herbal products in the quarantine lists, lifting the ban on the trade of medicinal and aromatic herbs, traders say. “The lifting of the ban by India has paved the way for export of over 4,000 tons of medicinal herbs that had stuck at Nepal-India border,” Govinda Ghimire, president of the Nepal Herbs and Herbal Products Association, told Republica.

Before this, India was allowing import of only 26 types of Nepali herbs like turmeric, asparagus (kurilo), cinnamon and spikenard (jatamasi), among others, according to the association.

Nepalgunj, Mahendranagar and Birgunj are the main gateways for export of Nepali medicinal herbals to the Indian market. 

“Most Nepali herbs are sold to Indian pharmaceutical companies and departmental stores. Indian supplies also export Nepali medicinal herbs to other countries,” added Ghimire.

According to the association, Indian had been imposing restriction on import of medicinal herbs like swertia (chiraito), soap nut (rittha), love apple (satuwa), and Sichuan pepper (timur), among others, stating that they are not enlisted by the authority in the quarantine lists.

With the restriction in place, exports of Nepali herbs to India had plummeted in the past few years. Data compiled by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) shows that export of medicinal herbs to India dropped by 20.8% to Rs 723 million in Fiscal Year 2018/19. In the first two months of the current fiscal year alone, earnings from export of medicinal herbs plunged by almost half to Rs 43.4 million. 

India’s import restrictions forced Nepali traders to export these products to countries like Germany and France, according to Ghimire. The central bank records show earnings from export of medicinal herbs to third countries more than doubled to Rs 593 million in FY2018/19. “These countries mainly import processed oil prepared from medicinal herbs,” Nepal Herbs and Herbal Products Association’s Ghimire said. 

Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2016 has recognized medicinal herbs as an important product having huge export potential. While giving high priority, the government raised cash incentive on export of these processed herbs and oil products to five percent from two percent from December last year.

Ghimire said herbs found at an altitude of 3,000 meters and above of Nepal are rich in natural chemicals that are in high demand in the international market. He also said the traders have now started taking the local products for organic certification soaring demand in the international market. “Since last year, we have been selling the products approved by Ceres GmbH, a Germany based organic certification firm,” Ghimire added.

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