Kailali imports veggie worth Rs500m annuallyVegetable import has continued unabated in the far-western Nepali district of Kailali despite higher production of the green produce. The district imports around 30,000 tonnes of vegetables worth around Rs500 million per year from India. A big chunk of these vegetables enter the country through Gauriphanta customs point.
Vegetable import has continued unabated in the far-western Nepali district of Kailali despite higher production of the green produce. The district imports around 30,000 tonnes of vegetables worth around Rs500 million per year from India. A big chunk of these vegetables enter the country through Gauriphanta customs point.
Kailali grows around 233,000 tonnes vegetables per year on 15,300 hectares of land. It grows winter vegetable crops on 5,300 hectares, spring vegetable crops on 2,700 hectares and summer vegetable crops on 2,300 hectares, according to the District Agricultural Office. The district also grows potatoes on 5,000 hectares during winter.
“Despite this production, demand for vegetables is growing in the district,” said Yagya Raj Joshi, chief of the District Agricultural Office Kailali.
Internal production fulfills 60 percent of the district’s vegetable needs, according to the office. “Remaining demand is met through imports,” said Joshi.
The district witnesses 30 to 35 percent drop in imports of vegetables during peak harvest time, according to Dhan Bahadur Khadka, assistant officer at Plant Quarantine Office. “But import goes up during other times,” said Khadka, adding, “Potatoes and onions account for a big portion of vegetable imports.”
The district imports over 500 tonnes of potatoes and onions per month. The district imported 1,200 tonnes of vegetables, including potatoes and onions, in the Nepali calendar month of Chait (mid-March to mid-April) alone. Imports of this scale have helped small customs office at Prithivipur to meet 70 percent of its revenue collection target through supply of green produce.
The district is currently operating various programmes to make itself self-reliant in vegetable production. Under these programmes, subsidies and various other assistance are provided to farmers. “The aim of all these programmes is to commercialise vegetable farming in the district,” said Joshi. Kailali has identified Dhangadi, Shreepur, Geta, Bela, Tikapur and Narayanpur as pocket areas for production of potatoes. Areas such as Urma, Beladevipur, Shreepur, Geta, Pathraiya, Nigali and Sahajpur are also being developed as pocket areas for vegetable production.
“If vegetable farming could be commercialised in these areas, imports will fall and Kailali could become self-reliant in vegetable production,” said Joshi. This will curb illegal imports of vegetables through customs points at Fulbari, Husliya, Lalabojhi, Bhajani, Narayanpur and Tikapur, according to farmers.
“To lure farmers towards commercial farming, the government must provide more subsidies on purchase of fertilisers, seeds and seedlings, agricultural tools and equipment, and fuel. Also, irrigation facilities should be provided to farmers,” said Hari Prasad Regmi, president of National Consumers Forum.