Government may lift restriction on milk powder import

Kathmandu, February 15

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) is again thinking of allowing milk powder import citing the increasing demand in the country.

Former agriculture minister Chakrapani Khanal had halted the import of milk powder from April last year with an aim to promote local products. The restriction was imposed after the ministry received frequent complaints from farmers regarding non-availability of market for their produce and they had poured milk on the roads as a sign of protest.

However, the ministry is now again preparing to open the import of milk powder to address the increasing demand in the market, said Pradip Chandra Bhattarai, joint spokesperson and information officer for MoALD. “Due to the seasonal milk production in the country, it is quite difficult to meet the market demand for the entire year,” he said.

“During the flush season (December to March), the market gets enough milk, but at other times when the milk consumption increases it becomes difficult to meet the market demand,” he mentioned.

Bhattarai further said that although industrialists will be allowed to import milk powder, they will not be allowed to store it. “We are having discussions over allowing businesses to import only the quantity of milk powder that is required in the market. Excessive import will be restricted,” he added.

As production of milk powder has been increasing every year in the country, Bhattarai said that permission to import milk powder will only be a short-term solution. He further said that the government will fix the amount of milk powder that industrialists will be allowed to import.

According to MoALD, around three tonnes of milk powder was produced in the last fiscal year, while in the current fiscal year six tonnes of milk powder is estimated to have been produced.

Earlier, the private sector had been requesting the ministry for permission to import milk powder during the lean season (April to November).

Last year, a few dairy firms had slashed their production due to lack of milk powder after the ministry halted its import. Even after that, former minister Khanal had been refusing to allow import of milk powder.

Instead, he had said that MoALD would facilitate the supply of milk produced in rural parts of the country in major markets.