Rs 21b cereal imports in first 10 months

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 18, 2014-

Nepal imported cereals worth Rs 21.12 billion in the first 10 months of the fiscal year, as the domestic output failed to meet the demand.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, cereal imports rose sharply to Rs 20.92 billion in last fiscal compared to Rs 13.41 billion in 2011-12. Cereal products include broken rice, buckwheat, millet, husk rice, barley, wheat and corn.

The ballooning imports come at a time when the country recorded a 9.4 percent growth in food grain output this fiscal year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the country’s cereal output jumped to 9.56 million tonnes this fiscal year, or the country produced an extra 824,000 tonnes of food grains in the year.

Agro experts said the rising cereal imports indicate Nepal, once a food grains exporting country, is gradually becoming dependent on imports.

Posh Raj Pandey, executive chairman of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment, said there has been a change in consumption pattern of the people with the rise in their income that has prompted the people to switch to consuming rice from other cereal items.  “Increase in rice-eating population might be one of the factors that the domestic production is unable to meet the demand.”

The ministry stats show the agricultural sector is growing at a meagre 3 percent per annum. The stagnant growth rate suggests that country’s production does not match with the growing population.  

“If the same situation continues, Nepal will soon become a largest importer of agricultural products,” said economist Madan Kumar Dahal.  

“Ballooning import of cereal is also an indication of ‘fragile’ economy,” he said, adding high production costs, lack of commercialization in agriculture sector and stagnant productivity resulted in the country being more dependent on imports.

Some agro experts said growing poultry industry was another major reason for increased cereals imports. Particularly, investment in poultry has soared maize corn import for cattle feed.

Meanwhile, the centre’s stats show the country’s overall imports surged 18.5 percent to Rs 584.39 billion, against Rs 75.20 billion export earnings in the first 10 months of the fiscal year. Export grew by 19.1 percent during the period.

Published: 19-06-2014 09:00

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