Salt shortage rumours set off panic buyingPeople have been rushing to stock up on salt following rumours of an imminent shortage.
People have been rushing to stock up on salt following rumours of an imminent shortage.
Salt Trading Corporation (STC), the sole dealer of iodised salt brand Aayo Noon, has tried to allay public fears and stem panic buying by announcing that it has adequate supplies in stock.
Two weeks ago, a similar rumour had spread through the Kathmandu Valley before STC issued a statement saying that there is no shortage of the all-essential flavouring agent.
The state-owned enterprise declared that it had more than 80,000 tonnes of salt stored in its warehouses compared to the country’s annual requirement of 120,000 tonnes.
Salt started flying off store shelves in the Valley following rumours that shortages had emerged in a number of Indian cities and far western Nepal.
Soaring demand has resulted in supplies running low at STC’s Pokhara depot. STC ships salt to districts such as Lamjung, Tanahu, Parbat, Gorkha and Syangja from Pokhara.
Normally, a packet of Aayo Noon is sufficient for an average sized family for a month. Balaram Giri, a trader on New Road, Pokhara said that customers had been buying 5-7 kg of salt each fearing a shortage.
Suresh Raj Bhandary, officiating chief of STC’s office in Pokhara, said they had enough stock for a few days of consumption. “We usually keep a month’s supply of salt at the Pokhara depot,” said Bhandary, adding that they were running short of Aayo Noon in particular.
According to STC, it now has less than 100 tonnes of salt at the depot. “During normal times, we have more than 1,000 tonnes of salt in stock,” Bhandary said.
The depot is low on salt also because of a drop in shipments. As per STC, its Pokhara depot has been receiving only 17 tonnes of salt from Bhairahawa. STC has been forced to ration salt to 15 sacks per dealer.
“A shortage of workers needed to package the product in Bhairahawa has been cited for the fall in deliveries,” said Bhandary. According to him, the supply is expected to return to normal levels by Saturday.
Iodised salt is imported from Gujarat, India and packaged at STC depots in Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi for shipment across the country.