Imports of fruits, vegetables swell

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Imports of fruits, vegetables swell

May 15, 2014-

A rise in the overall agricultural output has failed to stem the swelling flow of imported vegetables and fruits during the first nine months of the fiscal year.

According to the data of Nepal Rastra Bank, vegetable imports from India jumped 38 percent to Rs 4.87 billion and fruit imports soared 57 percent to Rs 1.65 billion.

Meanwhile, the production of potatoes and fruits grew 2.95 percent and 3.62 percent respectively, according to the ministry.

Traders said that they were forced to import vegetables and fruits from India as domestic supplies were inadequate to meet the requirement.

Bhimsen Shahi Thakuri, a wholesaler at the Kalimati market, the largest vegetable market in Kathmandu, said that they were importing most of their vegetables |from India due to inadequate local supplies.

“Most of the tomato, potato, onion, pointed gourd and bitter gourd sold in the market come from India,” he said.

According to traders, Nepal is self-sufficient in some vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, French bean, leaf mustard and radish. Other high selling vegetables such as lady finger, squash and balsam apple also come from India occasionally, traders said.

During the period October-May, Nepal is largely dependent on India for its vegetable needs. “With the start of the spring season, we won’t need to import vegetables as we will be getting adequate supplies domestically, particularly from Dhading, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Kavre and Bhaktapur,” said Thakuri.

“Lack of storage facilities for farm products has also compelled us to import vegetables as domestic production cannot be stored for the off season.”

Similarly, traders said that fruits have to be imported, particularly from India, to fulfil rising demand in the Kathmandu valley. “We have been importing fruits to fulfil demand in Kathmandu which has been rising due to its increasing population and which domestic production cannot fulfil,” said Amar Baniya, president of the Kuleshwor Fruits Wholesaler’s Association.

Traders said that fruits like apple, grape, pomegranate, papaya and sweet lime were being imported in large quantities. According to Baniya, most of the apples sold in Kathmandu come from China while the other fruits are imported from India.

During the spring season, demand for fruits jumps due to the hot weather, leading to a rise in fruit prices.

According to fruit wholesalers, fruit prices in the Kathmandu valley have swelled 10-30 percent. Wholesalers said that orders for fruits from juice and fruit shops had soared with the temperature rising every day. According to traders, prices of grapes, bananas and apples have risen steeply.

Published: 16-05-2014 10:51

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