Sharp increase in food imports during nationwide lockdown

Published On: May 21, 2020 08:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 20: Import of food items has almost doubled in the last two months of nationwide lockdown. This comes at a time the local farmers are complaining to take their produce to the market due to the problem of transportation and shortage of labor.

The government enforced nationwide lockdown for the first time on March 24, and has extended until June 2. Along with the extension of restrictive measures, the import of food items, including rice, pulses, vegetables, fruits and dairy products, have been increasing, according to the records of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. In the first week of the lockdown, import of cereals stood at 13,343 tons that has jumped to 24,365 tons as of Tuesday, the eighth week of the lockdown.

During the same period, the import of pulses increased more than two folds to 8,532 tons while that of fruits surged almost four folds to 3,541 tons. However, there was a nominal rise in vegetable imports.

Urmila KC, assistant spokesperson of the ministry, said the increased household consumption has triggered the import of edibles during lockdown. According to her, having low domestic production of fruits, Nepal relies mainly on imported farm products that usually shoots up during summer time.

The ministry’s record shows that the country now has 182,429 tons of rice in stock that includes over 16,000 tons of the cereal with the government-owned Food Management and Trading Company.  

Meanwhile, the country imported medicines worth Rs 2.71 billion and raw materials of medicines worth Rs 614.99 million during the period. According to the ministry, the supply of goods from all bordering points, except Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, the Nepal-China border that has remained closed last January after the very first case of novel coronavirus was traced in Kathmandu, is smooth. 

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