August 17: The Government of Nepal has requested for 155,000 tons of food grains from India after assessing that the supply of food items like paddy, rice and sugar in the market might be affected due to India's export ban.
The government has sent a letter to New Delhi asking for 155,000 tons of food. Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ramesh Rijal confirmed that a letter has been sent to the Government of India through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requesting the supply of 100,000 tons of rice, 50,000 tons of sugar, and 5,000 tons of paddy.
India had decided on July 21 to stop the export of white rice other than Basmati brand, anticipating that there might be a food crisis in its own country. Although the government has sent a letter to India, it is yet to receive any response from the southern neighbor.
In an informal conversation, India has said that the ban would not be applicable for Nepal, said the spokesperson for the ministry, Radhika Aryal.
However, the effects of the export ban has already been seen in the Nepali market and therefore the food items were requested after determining the quantity required, said Aryal.
Businessmen say that they have stocks of paddy and rice that will last until October. Domestically produced rice is not enough to meet the internal demand of Nepal. Nepal produces around 5.5 million metric tons of paddy annually. About 3.5 million metric tons of rice is prepared from the paddy produced in the country. Officials say that Nepal needs about 4 million metric tons of rice throughout the year.
According to this calculation, about 500,000 tons of rice should be imported to meet Nepal's demand for the staple food. Even though paddy and rice are imported into Nepal from more than a dozen countries, government data show that 99 percent of imported rice comes from India. According to the Department of Customs, in the last fiscal year (2022/23), Nepal imported 225,46 tons of rice and 555,869 metric tons of paddy from abroad.
Other countries that supply paddy and rice to Nepal are China, Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Canada, America, Oman, Thailand among others.