Addressing Non-Tariff Barriers on Export of Ginger
South Asia Watch on Trade Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) organized a half day discussion programme on “Addressing Non-Tariff Barriers on Export of Ginger” on 14th November 2014 in Kathmandu. The programme was organized to share the findings of the research that has been conducted by SAWTEE, and gather feedback/suggestions from the stakeholders in order to efficiently implement into the research findings for its effectiveness. The programme was attended by about 43 participants representing government officials from Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Agricultural Development, representatives of the private sector such as Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders Association, members from civil society organizations and the media.
While presenting the research finding, Mr. Purushottam Ojha, leader of the research team and Senior Consultant, SAWTEE, talked about the issues related to the production of ginger in Nepal and its export barriers, particularly non-tariff barriers (NTBs). He also discussed about some possible alternatives on improving supply side capacity and removal of NTBs, such as creating local storage facilities, diversifying market, harmonizing the standards, getting Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with trading partners, particularly with India, and stopping the illegal taxes. Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, Executive Chairman, SAWTEE, highlighted the medicinal values of ginger and drew the attention of private sector, particularly, that of pharmaceutical companies, to work on value addition which would create higher employment and income in Nepal than what is being offered at present. He also pointed out the importance of proper engagement and co-operation between all the relevant stakeholders of Nepal and India at the local level to address the trade related hassles being faced by the traders at customs points between Nepal and India.
Mr. Toya Narayan Gyawali, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), stated that there is a lack of agriculture related services and storage facilities in Nepal. Therefore, around 30 percent of the ginger production is reported to be wasted during post harvesting. He also highlighted that the dependency on India for ginger exports and the price fluctuation are the major challenges that Nepal has been facing for its exports. Similarly, Mr. Pradeep Jung Pandey, President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), pointed out the need to focus on value addition activities and product diversification for better prices. He also suggested identifying the specific pocket villages or districts among the areas where ginger is being cultivated currently so that specialization in its production and extension services by the government would be more effective. Stating that about 86 percent of NTBs in South Asia is related to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dr. Hiramani Ghimire, Executive Director, SAWTEE, pointed out the need for improving countrys quality standards testing facilities.
During the programme, Mr. Narendra Khadka, President, Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders Association (NGPTA), informed that Nepal is importing ginger from China whereas significant percentage of countrys production perishes because of the lack of facilitation in its export. He further underlined the importance of proper inter country border agency co-operation to facilitate the export of ginger. He also discussed the practical problems being faced by the traders at different places from production districts to the custom points. Likewise, Mr. Tanka Prasad Sharma, General Secretary, Jadibuti Association of Nepal (JABAN), emphasized the need for new technologies and training programmes for farmers to improve post harvest management and reduce the wastage of ginger. Similarly, Dr. Pradyumna Raj Pandey, Senior Agricultural Economist, Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), suggested the need for various stakeholders to work under Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model and the need for agriculture based industries to work according to a systematic business plan.
During the open-floor discussion, the participants stressed on the importance of devising projects / training programmes targeted to the vulnerable groups such as small farmers and women who are involved in ginger production. They also suggested the need to strengthen research and development in various issues of production such as viability of commercial farming, improvement of seed quality, disease control, and effects of macro-climatic reactions to ginger production, among others. In addition, other issues discussed during the programme are subsidies for agricultural equipment for farmers, possibility of exploring local market through product diversification, and the need for introducing mobile information system for farmers. Mr. Nava Raj Dahal, Programme Director, SAWTEE, while commencing the programme shared that Nepals position in global ginger trade is at 3rd position after India and China; it occupies about 13 percent in global production and 21 percent of South Asia. However, there are still barriers that are hindering Nepals ginger exports to the international market.