Nepal requests India to provide rice, sugar

Representational Photo
Representational Photo

Kathmandu, August 16: After India imposed a ban on rice exports, the government of Nepal has written to its counterparts in New Delhi to provide rice, sugar, and paddy.

The request was made last week through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Indian side.

"We have requested the Indian side to make available 100,000 tonnes of rice, 50,000 tonnes of sugar, and one million tonnes of paddy," Ram Chandra Tiwari, joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry Commerce and Supplies told IANS.

After India imposed a ban on the export of rice, psychology has spread among the public that there could be a lack of rice in the market, said Tiwari, in order to dispel that public’s notion, we have requested for supplies of grain and sugar.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just communicated with the Indian side about the request on Tuesday.

The request was sent through the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

Some Nepali traders started hoarding rice and paddy in Nepal under the pretext of India’s embargo on the export of non-basmati rice beginning from July 20 amid the threat of El Nino weather disruption.

As soon as news about India’s embargo was out, the traders started hoarding huge amounts of rice resulting in price hikes of non-basmati rice in Nepal.

Rice is the staple food in Nepal and is heavily dependent on imported food, mostly from India.

Nepal imported 1.4 million tonnes of rice --1.38 million tonnes of non-basmati and 19,000 tonnes of basmati rice -- from India, the highest import on record, according to an Indian government report.

In terms of value, rice imports came to $473.43 million or just over Rs 60 billion.

Imports of basmati and non-basmati rice dropped sharply to 812,028 tonnes in 2022-23 as India strangled exports.

Nepali traders have said that immediately after India stopped the export of rice, retail prices jumped by Rs 200 to Rs 250 per 25 kg bag.

They say that prices are expected to increase further, particularly during the festive season.

Since consumption of rice and sugar increases during the festive season, government officials said that it is their preparations to keep stock of food and sugar-like essential products in stock so that the general public will not face any shortcomings in the future.

Due to depleting stock of paddy and sugar, the government has decided to procure the food grains and sugar from India in order to mitigate the crisis if any occurs in the future.

Before making such a request Minister for Industry, Commerce, and Supplies Ramesh Rijal held talks with Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Naveen Srivastava, and requested him not to impose a ban on the export of rice to Nepal. The Indian side is positive, said Tiwari.

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