Nepal’s lentil import upLentil exports used to make up a significant portion of Nepal’s trade with Bangladesh until a few years ago. However, shipments have been falling continuously and imports have been surging of late.
Lentil exports used to make up a significant portion of Nepal’s trade with Bangladesh until a few years ago. However, shipments have been falling continuously and imports have been surging of late. In the first six months of the fiscal year, Nepal imported twice the amount of lentils exported.
Head of Mechi Customs Office Tek Bahadur Aryal said, “Lentil imports have increased to more than double lentil exports, and imports continue to swell.”
According to the Mechi Customs Office, in the first six months of the current fiscal year, 3.31 million kg of lentils worth Rs359.9 million were exported to Bangladesh. However, during the same period, 7.84 million kg of lentils worth Rs813.9 million were imported from other countries. Lentils are imported mainly from Australia, Canada and Myanmar.
Lentil exports have been falling continuously for the last five years while imports are soaring. Due to dropping exports, trade between Nepal and Bangladesh has been hit directly.
According to customs officer Manoj Kumar Bishwakarma, Surya Pulse and Processing of Dhaijan, Jhapa is a large importer of lentils to Nepal. Bishwakarma said that the company imported lentils mainly from Australia and Myanmar.
Entrepreneurs claim that exports have been sliding due to low production. Industry analysts said that the lentils exported to Bangladesh had been supplied from India. He said, “As production has dropped in India, lentil exports to Bangladesh have gone down.”
Pradip Sarada, an entrepreneur in Biratnagar, said that government policy was the chief reason behind falling lentil exports. He added that there was inconsistency in the distribution of the 2 percent export subsidy. The tax of Rs1 per kg being levied by the government has also led to a decline in shipments, he said.
According to Sarada, the export subsidy has been slashed from 4 to 2 percent which is a big letdown for traders. Nepal started exporting wheat to Bangladesh following the opening of the Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglaband route in June 1997. Wheat exports have now been replaced by lentil exports.