March 18: Fertiliser imported from China through Tatopani border with the aim of supplying it to Kathmandu in a short time is still stuck in the warehouse of Tatopani customs due to the lengthy paper works and troublesome government process.
The fertiliser that arrived at the Tatopani checkpoint with the aim of reaching Kathmandu in 10 days from Shigatse, China has been stuck at the checkpoint since 12 days after entering Nepal.
Nepali farmers, who face shortage of chemical fertilizers every year, have started importing fertilizers from the northern border checkpoints to prevent shortage this year. However, due to the lack of procedural hassles, the fertilisers have not been cleared by the customs office.
Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development was expecting the fertiliser to reach Kathmandu in a week, it has been stranded at the customs office for 12 days due to failure to obtain customs clearance.
Lal Bahadur Khatri, chief of Tatopani Customs, said that the fertilisers would be sent from the customs to the Salt Trading Corporation in Kathmandu if the necessary process is completed by the ministry.
According to the customs office, about 300 metric tons of fertilisers are stored at the customs at present.
Khatri informed that chemical fertiziers were being imported through the northern border for the first time. He said that imports from the customs would increase if the Araniko highway could be upgraded.
The Salt Trading Corporation Limited, which has received permission from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development for transportation of the fertilizer, has entered into an agreement with the Silk Group and is bringing the fertilizer to Nepal from the Chinese city of Shigatse via Tatopani.
Informing about the progress of urea imported to Nepal from China, Ramesh Sherpa, chairman of Silk Group, an import and transport company, said that 4,000 metric tons of urea will arrive in Nepal within a month.
“Currently, fertilisers are being imported in five to seven 40-foot containers daily,” Sherpa said, “If there are no other problems in between, we can bring all the fertilisers to Nepal in a month.” He said a large container would transport two metric tons of fertilizer.
Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Kanchan Raj Pandey, informed that the import of fertilizer from China is being done to solve the problem of shortage of urea in Nepal every year.
“Prior to this, fertilisers were imported only from Birgunj through the southern border,” said Pandey, who visited the Tatopani customs warehouse to monitor the situation. He said that urea imported from China would be cheaper by Rs 2 to 3 per kg.
Dr. Govinda Prasad Sharma, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, said that in the first phase, urea imported from China is being prepared for distribution in Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Dolakha and other nearby districts. “The trial of importing urea from China has started,” Sharma said, adding, “The fertilsiers have come to Nepal from China in an affordable price and Nepali farmers will not have to face shortage of fertilisers from this year.”
The chemical fertilisers enter Nepal from India, Bangladesh and China. Bed Bahadur Shrestha, president of the Sindhupalchok Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that it was unfortunate that the government was trying to store fertilisers so that there would be no shortage.
"The customs process should be started immediately to distribute the fertilisers to the farmers immediately," said Shrestha, “As there is huge demand for fertilisers between May to August, the government needs to pay special attention to deliver the fertilisers to the farmers on time.”