Agro exports from eastern hills could hit ‘Rs 4.5b’Exports of cash crops such as fruits, vegetables and spices from eastern hill districts of Dhankuta, Therathum, Shakhuwashaba have reached around Rs850 million annually on a average.
Exports of cash crops such as fruits, vegetables and spices from eastern hill districts of Dhankuta, Therathum, Shakhuwashaba have reached around Rs850 million annually on a average.
But stakeholders say with adequate processing, branding, packaging and labelling, the exports could be increased to Rs4.5 billion per year.
“In the absence of processing, packaging, branding, labelling and quarantine facilities, farmers are forced to export the agro products as raw materials to India,” said Laxman Bhattarai, manager of Agriculture Goods Market in Dharan. After reaching the Indian market, the products are processed, branded and packaged and sold at high rates under Indian brand names, he said. “The same products are re-exported to Nepal at high prices.”
Three years ago, the market used to export 3,000 metric tonnes of oranges to India, but the absence of proper branding and labelling saw India halting the imports. “The demand for avocado is also high in the Indian market. Exports of this fruit alone can amount to Rs80 million per year if favourable export climate existed,” Bhattarai said.
The market annually exports 8,000 tonnes of cabbages, 100 tonnes of peas, 20 tonnes of carrots, 2,000 tonnes of cauliflower and 50 tonnes pepper amounting to Rs199.5 million. All these vegetables are off-seasonal and are well received by Indian consumers. According to Agriculture Products Market Management Committee, the eastern hill districts export spices worth Rs 900 million to India annually as raw materials. Ginger tops the list, with annual exports of Rs700 million.
“Total production of ginger in Nepal is far above the consumption level. If not exported, the farmers would face significant losses. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of even breaking even. There is no crop insurance. And if strikes, road blocks and accidents occur, the farmers face extra losses,” said the committee’s chairman Kaji Giri.
High quality fertilisers, seeds, irrigation facilities, the government’s guarantee price on agro products, waivers on transportation costs, price information dissemination network, awareness programme and such other basic requisites can serve well to increase living standards of farmers in the Eastern Region, according to the stakeholders.