Illegal mustard oil imports put local producers on brink

- Binod Bhandari, Biratnagar

Oct 18, 2016-

The producers of mustard oil in Biratnagar are in crisis due to illegally imported mustard oil from the Indian market. 

Contrary to the statistics of the Customs Office at Biratnagar which suggests that not even a single litre of mustard oil has been imported from India, various brands of Indian oil are readily available in the market. The local oil mills in the district are on the verge of collapse as they struggle to compete with the smuggled mustard oil. 

“Indian edible oil is Rs50-60 cheaper than the local brands,” said Shrawan Kumar Agrawal, a local oil mill owner. “And a larger number of buyers are attracted to Indian brands. It’s getting very difficult to survive in the market.”  

Although, the Nepal Bureau of Meteorology and Standard has put restrictions on the import of Indian mustard oil because of low quality, the Indian brands have maintained a sort of monopoly in the market. More than two dozen oil mills of the district have shut down their operations over five years after failing to compete with the smuggled Indian oil.  

Out competed by the smuggled products from India, Jugal Oil, Gopal Oil, Ambika Oil, Narayan Oil and Hira Oil of Biratnagar; Pashupati Oil, Lahiya Oil, Baba Oil, Khatal Oil, Mahadev Oil and Kalika Oil of Sunsari; Ganesh Oil and Swastik Oil of Rajbiraj; and Krishna Oil and Manisha Oil of Jhapa among others have shut down their operation, Agrawal explained.

Indian mustard oil brands like Dawat, Tiger, Topari and Dofool have occupied the market. These brands are at least Rs50 a litre cheaper than Nepali products. Although, only sunflower oil is permitted to import from India, there are around a dozen oil mills operating in the bordering town of India considering the Nepali market. “Such mills at Purnia, Farbisgunj, Katihar and Saharsa use certain chemical--that smells like mustard--to produce a low quality oil at cheaper price and send it to Nepal,” claims a local mill owner. 

The local produces’ market share has shrunk to below 10 percent in the eastern region. Almost every market is flooded with Indian oil. 

“Although the smuggled oil is hazardous to health, the local administration has done nothing to curb it,” said Agrawal. “The concerned authorities must come up with stringent measure to curb such anomalies.”

Published: 18-10-2016 08:31

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