Food product factories resume operations at reduced capacityPokhara Industrial Estate, which was shuttered after the lockdown was announced, threw open its gates on Monday.
Manufacturers of food products that were shut down by the virus lockdown are stirring back to life. Several factories have restarted production while a number of others are readying to resume operations.
Pokhara Noodles switched on its machinery on Monday after summoning 85 of its employees who work one shift a day. They have been provided in-house accommodation.
“We are back in business albeit amid difficult circumstances,” said Baburam Panta, executive director of Pokhara Noodles. “We have instructed the employees to maintain a physical distance from each other, and we are producing noodles with the raw materials we have in stock,” he said.
According to Panta, the company is producing 12 percent of its usual daily output of 25,000 cartons of different brands of noodles like Ramba, Bonus and Jojo.
Himshree Foods, the maker of Rara white noodles, also came back online on Monday. The company summoned 50 of its workers living nearby to work one shift a day.
Most of the employees live close to the factory, and others who live some distance away have been provided accommodation on the premises, said Amit Thapa, managing director of the company.
The factory restarted producing noodles using the raw materials left in stock. It is operating at 15 percent of capacity. The normal daily output of Rara noodles amounts to 1,012 tonnes, he said.
Pokhara Industrial Estate, which was shuttered after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus infection, threw open its gates on Monday.
Pokhara Foods and Gauri Shankar Foods resumed operations last week while several other manufacturers are making preparations to restart production, said Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay, director of Pokhara Industrial Estate.
“We said that factories producing essential products could operate by prioritising human health and fulfilling all safety requirements,” he said. Several factories remained open even after the stay-at-home order was issued, and they are still in operation, he added.
According to him, Sujal, Panthi and Fishtail Dairy have been operating continuously but at reduced capacity during the lockdown. Sujal produces powder milk.
Mineral water companies Annapurna and Himalayan Beverage; plastic bottle and jar makers Satyam Industries, Sujal Plastic and PR National; and two oxygen gas plants never closed.
Biswa Feed Industries and Hiltake Iron Industry have also been operating continuously.
Shanti Engineering, which also remained open throughout the lockdown, made a fibre swab collection booth to conduct coronavirus tests and handed it over to the Pokhara Science Academy. The company has also made a biometric lock for the corona test lab, said manager Basanta Regmi.
Gandaki Tile, a block making company, also maintained production despite the lockdown. It says it is now facing problems for lack of cement. Upadhyay said that Taja Bread also readying to resume operations.
Among the 73 factories in the industrial estate, 27 are operating at 8-50 percent of capacity. They are producing goods according to demand.
Upadhyay said that other factories shut down due to lack of sales, difficulties in production and distribution, and decreased demand for their goods.
Balabhadra Nakarmi, president of the Pokhara Industrial Estate Association, said that the factories that were in operation were using raw materials in stock. Discussions are being held regarding the procurement of fresh raw materials and ways to move ahead, he said.
“We have given first priority to makers of food products,” he said. There is no problem with regard to transportation, but it is difficulty for the operator to go to the factory and supply raw materials, he said.
Refined flour and other raw materials are available in the country, but other necessary materials are in short supply, Nakarmi said. With packing factories shut down, this has created another difficulty, he added.