Department fines importer and sellers of fake paddy seedsThe bogus Garima seeds resulted in crop losses worth Rs230 million during the 2019 growing season.
The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection Management has penalised the importer and distributors of fake Garima brand paddy seeds under the Consumer Protection Act 2018. The bogus seeds resulted in crop losses worth Rs230 million during the 2019 growing season.
Farmers had planted the seeds on 1,700 hectares in 13 districts in the western Tarai, according to a report submitted by the Seed Quality Control Centre to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
The department took action against 17 firms and slapped fines totalling Rs3.12 million. The importer of the seeds, Sunrise Agriculture Research of Dang, was fined Rs300,000 while 14 sellers were fined Rs200,000 each—Tanahu Bij Bhandar, Tanahu; Jamil Bij Bhandar, Kapilvastu; Ghimire Agrovet, Kapilvastu; Laliguras Agrovet, Kapilvastu; Swargadwari Agri Nepal, Dang; Janata Agrovet, Dang; Munal Agrovet Concern, Nepalgunj; Srijana Vet Centre, Bardia; Sikha Agro Centre, Bardia; Khushiram Veterinary Centre, Bardia; Lohiti Agrovet Centre, Bardia; RH Agrovet, Kailali; Kishan Agrovet Centre, Kailali and Prasant Agrovet Centre, Chitwan.
Netra Prasad Subedi, director general of the department, said that lack of regulation and work procedure in the law prevented him from taking stricter action against the offending traders.
“It took a year for the regulation to be approved; and until it is published in the Nepal Gazette, we can do nothing,” he added.
Subedi said that according to the law, the sufferers have to go to court to claim the compensation amount. Consumer rights activists can help the farmers initiate proceeding in the district courts as there is no consumer court in the country.
He added that the Agriculture Ministry would determine the amount of compensation to be provided by the federal and local governments respectively.
The Commerce Department has also written to the Department of Industry to investigate online shopping company Daraz as it has been engaged in business activities while being registered as a cargo service provider.
Daraz was slapped a Rs300,000 fine for delivery of incorrect product, and the firm has asked for a review of the case.
Consumers have criticised the department for not taking stringent action against fraudulent traders while consumer rights activists claim government influence and pressure has weakened it.
The Commerce Department filed a case against Alfa Beta Complex for distributing poor quality food and Shubhakamana Mineral Water Company for not meeting quality standards. Alfa Beta's case has been submitted to the director general while the mineral water company has been slapped a Rs300,000 fine.
"We will take legal action if a connection is found between the recent destruction of chicks and eggs and rising prices of chicken meat and eggs," officials said.
The department collected Rs10 million in fines from 1,164 firms found engaged in illegal business practices during market inspection in the first seven months of the current fiscal year. Its inspectors also destroyed Rs10.5 million worth of illegal goods.
Subedi said that the department had spent Rs2 million out of its Rs10 million budget during the first seven months. "We have adequate staff to conduct market inspection," he said, refuting previous claims that the department needed additional personnel.
The preparation of the work procedure for strategic market inspection has reached the final phase, and it will be made public soon, he said. The work procedure mainly deals with taking action according to the law on the basis of information and surveillance, and establishing strong coordination with the related government bodies.