Traders call for easing ban on Basmati exportsRice traders have urged the government to ease restrictions on the export of Nepali Basmati rice arguing that it would help establish the brand in international markets.
Rice traders have urged the government to ease restrictions on the export of Nepali Basmati rice arguing that it would help establish the brand in international markets. Farmers will also be able to obtain optimum benefits if shipments are permitted, they said.
The government has barred exports of all types of rice citing a food deficit amid low production from the last two years. There is no restriction on importing the food grain which is the staple diet in Nepal. However, India stopped paddy exports seven months ago.
“If traders are allowed to export Nepali red Basmati rice to overseas markets, it will benefit both farmers and traders,” said Subodh Kumar Gupta, vice-president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Red Basmati is a high quality rice and has a better aroma compared to the product Nepal has been importing from India.” He claimed that Nepali Basmati rice could secure a good share of the international market if the ban was relaxed.
There are around 60 rice factories across the country, including 10 in the Bara-Parsa Industrial Corridor, that produce high quality Basmati rice.
According to Gupta, if the government promotes cultivation of Basmati rice, Nepal has the potential to produce it in huge quantities. There is high demand for Basmati rice in the US, Europe and the Middle East. Ganesh Lath, proprietor of Asish Rice Mills, said that not only Basmati but other varieties like Pokhreli and Kasturi could also find a good international market. “There are some rice species that are only found in Nepal. Such varieties are in high demand abroad.”
Ganilal Yadav, a plant development officer at the District Agriculture Development Office, said that Basmati rice could be produced on fields where irrigation facilities are limited.
The Central Region has a higher yield capacity compared to the Eastern Region as the farm lands here lack sufficient irrigation facilities, he said. “As Basmati requires less fertilizer and water, it can benefit farmers greatly.”
However, farmers are reluctant to plant Basmati as other species like Sona Munsuli have a higher yield. The productivity of Basmati is 1 quintal per kattha compared to 1.5 quintals for other paddy varieties. In terms of prices, Basmati gives better returns.