September 6, 2016 01:50 AM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
'Customs officials of both countries aware of the foul play'
DHARAN, Sept 6: Ban on import of Nepali ginger by India has left many farmers and traders high and dry. But Nanda Kishor Sah, a ginger exporter of Dharan, is not surprised by the ban. He knew the ban was coming sooner or later as Chinese ginger was being imported to India in the name of Nepali product.
Sah had even lodged a complaint at Mechi Customs Office, Rani Customs Office, Birgunj Customs Office and Belhiya Customs Office one and half months ago, requesting officials to stop export of Chinese ginger to India in the name of Nepali product. However, customs officials did not take any action.
“I knew smuggling of Chinese ginger into India will damage the market of Nepali ginger as India had put a ban on ginger from the northern neighbor,” Sah, one of largest exporters of ginger in eastern Nepal, said.
Around 90 percent of ginger produced in Nepal is exported to India. However, tons of ginger is lying unsold at go-down now, while farmers have stopped harvesting this cash crop because of the ban.
“Influencing customs officials, some big traders had been exporting cheaper Chinese ginger to India, branding them as Nepali product,” Sah said. “The modus operandi is similar to the export of betel nuts and red lentils.”
Rakesh Sah, another trader, informed that Chinese ginger can be easily differentiated from Nepali ginger. “Chinese ginger is stored somewhere near customs point and repackaged in jute sacks like Nepali products and then exported to India,” he added.
Nanda Kishor Sah said smugglers, professional organizations of business community and customs officials were working hand in glove to issue certificate of origin for Chinese ginger.
The district chapters of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) issue certificate of origin on the recommendation of District Agricultural Development Office.
Customs officials of both Nepal and India are aware of the anomaly, traders say.
“Smugglers bribe Nepali customs officials Rs 75,000 and Indian official Rs 125,000 for one time clearance,” added Nanda Kishor.
Agricultural Dev Ministry meeting stakeholders today
Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) is organizing a meeting with stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss ban on import of Nepali ginger by India.
MoAD Spokesperson Yogendra Karki told Republica that Secretary Uttam Kumar Bhattarai has invited officials of Ministry of Commerce, Department of Customs, representatives of private sector and other stakeholders for the meeting.
This is probably the first move made by the government agency to address ban on export of Nepali ginger to India.