Validation Meeting on Export of Vegetables and Fruits from Eastern Region of Nepal
South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics, and Environment (SAWTEE) organized a half day validation meeting with the objective of sharing the findings of the research entitled “Export of Vegetables and Fruits from Eastern Region of Nepal’, on 23 May 2016 in Kathmandu.
Presenting the key findings, Mr. Purushottam Ojha, Senior Consultant, SAWTEE, said that export volume of vegetables and fruits are not significant as compared to the production. Mr. Ojha argued that despite a good market opportunity for Nepal’s fruits and vegetables, the export picture is disappointing. He further added that the market for Nepal’s fruits and vegetables is India in general and West Bengal in particular. However, the study finds many production and export related barriers which need to be addressed in a collaborative way.
The study finds that Nepal’s fruits and vegetables are uncompetitive as they are facing a number of internal and external problems at a time. Low scale of production, inadequate extension services, absence of market infrastructures, are some of the other problems due to which Nepal’s products are unable to compete in the export market. Similarly, revenue centered attitude of local government bodies, poor laboratory facilities, insufficient human resource capacities are the factors discouraging the exports of these products. The study also identifies existence of informal trade of vegetables taking place from this region. Against this context, the study has made some robust recommendations to address these problems and promote the production and exports of vegetables and fruits in the country.
Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman, SAWTEE, argued that while discussing the promotional measures to increase the production of fruits and vegetables from eastern part of the country, we also need to think about their trade off with the production of crops like tea, ginger, large cardamom. He further added that there is a need to carry out product level and seasonal level analysis in order to identify specific opportunities in agricultural trade in the region. Considering the ongoing debate with regard to the presence of middlemen in the trade, Dr. Pandey suggested that assessment should be made of the value addition made by the middlemen and their respective share in the benefit.
Mr. Rabi Shankar Sainju, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Nepal(GON), showed his hope that findings and recommendations of the study would be much useful to the ministry while formulating plans and preparing negotiation agendas. As the joint technical committee meeting on trade between Nepal and India is approaching, the issues raised by the study would be taken into consideration during the negotiation. He suggested that we need to work on developing entrepreneurship of the farmers as they are still, at large, involved in subsistent farming system. Similarly, Mr. Pradip Maharjan, Chief Executive Officer, Agro Enterprise Centre, said that use of technology and implementation of good agriculture practices (GAP) are equally important to tap the export opportunities of vegetables and fruits in the changing global contexts. He urged the Government of Nepal to become active in the negotiation to bring Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between Nepal and India regarding the mutual recognition of the laboratories. He also requested the government to bring an effective mechanism to ensure subsidies to reaching the targeted beneficiaries
During the discussion, the participants suggested that the government should give priority to set up advanced market infrastructures at various locations, varietal development and expand access to quality seeds, and strengthen coordination among the government line agencies. About 30 expert participants—such as chiefs of various government agencies, former bureaucrats, private sector representatives, academia, researchers—attended the meeting and shared their ideas.