--BY KRISHNA RAJ BAJGAIN
In the fiscal year 2020/21, Nepal imported Rs 4.11 billion worth of lungi, dhoti and sarees. Such imports were worth only Rs 1.13 billion in FY 2008/09. The increasing trend of imports of lungi, dhoti and saree at such an alarming rate can be attributed mainly to remittance-induced prosperity, inadequate domestic production and new trends in fashion. In view of these facts and figures, it is worth exploring the possibilities of import substitution in these items. Some specialised items of these categories (such as those embodied with unique Nepali craftsmanship, design and motif) can even be exported.
A growing market, which is already worth more than four billion rupees per annum, should not be overlooked. The government must take appropriate policy measures in this direction.
Nepal already has a considerable number of weaving mills in operation, while there are more which have been closed down. The capacity of such mills can be utilised to produce items like lungi, dhoti and sarees though a few of them may need some modifications.
(Bajgain is Senior Officer in Trade and Export Promotion Centre. The opinions expressed here are his personal.)