Govt opens rice export with quantitative restriction
BHOJ RAJ POUDEL
KATHMANDU, July 25: The government has lifted a four-year-old ban on rice export paving the way for the country to export of upto 10,000 tons of rice from the two customs points - Rasuwa and Tatopani - to China.
Initially, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies and Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) had proposed that export be opened for 50,000 tons of rice from those customs for this year.
But the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) lowered the export ceiling when it issued the final decision.
“Traders can now export 5,000 tons of rice from each of the two customs points,” commerce secretary Lal Mani Joshi told Republica on Tuesday. “Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai declined to approve export of 50 thousand tons of rice, citing the rising price of food in the domestic market.”
Officials said the amount of export opened was too little for farmers to enjoy better price for their produces.
According to MoAD, the country enjoyed food surplus of 443,000 tons in the fiscal year 2010/11. It has forecast a food surplus of about 800,000 tons for previous fiscal year 2011/12, of which 300,000 tons will comprise rice.
The preliminary estimation of crops production of MoAD shows that paddy reached 9.45 million tons in the fiscal year 2011/12, up 9.8 percent compared to the previous fiscal year and 21.8 percent compared to the fiscal year 2009/10.
“It might lead to unintended consequences,” Joshi said. “Opening export of rice in a large quantity might result in shortage of food in the domestic market.” The government´s decision to lift up the ban has been published in the gazette this week.
The Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM) is preparing to provide license to the traders. “Traders have to apply to get the license for export of rice and the DoCSM will make a decision to provide license with quota restriction for them to export,” Joshi said.