Fruit imports swell due to low domestic output

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Fruit imports swell due to low domestic output

Jan 9, 2015-

Fruit imports have soared as demand surpasses domestic output. Nepal bought fruits worth Rs 1.2 billion from India in the first four months of the fiscal year, up 21.6 percent year on year, Nepal Rastra Bank said. Shipments during the whole of the last fiscal year amounted to Rs 6 billion.

“Demand has been rising along with increasing consumption, but local production is small. So we have been importing fruits to fulfil demand,” said Khum Prasad Ghimire, president of the Fruits and Vegetables Entrepreneurs Association.

Ghimire added that imports fulfilled around 75 percent of Nepal’s total requirement of fruits. “If the government doesn’t promote commercial fruit farming, the dependency on imports will keep growing,” he said.

According to traders, apples make up the largest import of fruits, followed by pomegranate, grape, papaya, sweet orange and banana. Apples mainly come from China and India. Pomegranate, grape, banana, orange, watermelon and sweet orange are imported from Nagpur, Himachal, Kashmir, Nashik and Nagpur of India, traders said. Similarly, Sindhu, Shansi and Sanduk of China are major suppliers of apples.

Despite abundant production, oranges need to be imported during the off season as demand outstrips supply, said traders. The season for Nepali oranges is between October to January, after which imported apples take over the markets.

“Lack of storage facility is also one reason for the surge in imports as domestic products cannot be stored for the off season,” said Amar Baniya, president of the Kuleshwor Fruits Wholesaler’s Association. “Although a number of fruits are being stored, they have a very short life.” He added that imported fruits had a longer shelf life and were not different in taste.

Meanwhile, prices of various fruits have decreased over a month due to a drop in consumption with the entire country shivering in the winter cold. Wholesale prices of oranges fell to Rs 105 per kg from Rs 130 a month ago.

Similarly, bananas now cost Rs 51 per dozen, down from Rs 65 before. Pomegranate costs Rs 150 to Rs 180, down from Rs 210 to Rs 230 earlier. Grapes are available at Rs 150 to Rs 170 per kg, against Rs 250 to Rs 270 last month.

Published: 10-01-2015 09:51

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