Herbal sector lacks investment

Kathmandu, October 15:

Entrepreneurs and experts involved with the herbs sector have admitted that neither enough investment has been made in the sector nor has been policy implementation effective, leading to failure in capitalising resources.

Dr Dev Bhakta Shakya, executive director of Agro-Enterprises Centre under the FNCCI speaking at the programme on Herbs Investment Opportunities and Challenges organised by Nepal Herbs and Herbal Products Association (NEHHPA) stressed on better investment environment to exploit its increased potentials. Shakya informed that more than 30 big and small manufacturers of essential oil and exporters of herbal product are active in Nepal. However, most of the processing/manufacturing companies are concentrated in the valley (nearly 30 herbal firms.)

The programme is a part of the interaction programme organised by NEHHPA on the sidelines of the Agro Expo 2006 going on at Birendra International Convention Centre (BICC). Some herbal plans are located at Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Humla, Dolkha and Sunsari. According to Shakya, overseas export of essential oil from Nepal in the year 2004-05 comes to be 12,783 metric tonnes amounting to Rs 117.5 million. Herbal industry has been affected largely due to double and triple taxes at the local level, policy implementation constraints, quality inconsistency, and high cost of certifications and lack of environment to boost business.

Rana Bahadur Rawal, Advisor of NEPHHA spoke about tremendous potentials of herbs industry in Nepal and stressed on exploring its markets with strong policy implementation and marketing.

He said that Nepal has about 7,0 00 species of herbal plants and out of this, 4,000 species are found to be economic plants. In the category of essential oils alone, 200 species of plants are found which need effective exploitation for their economic benefits, he said. The herbal industry is facing challenges such as social, economic and technological. In Nepal, people do not have enough access to resources to boost the herbal industry, said Rawal. We are facing lack of value addition, lack of domestication and plantation technologies.

Even the policies are not consistent and lack timely implementation that has strongly affected the sector’s growth, said Rawal. Local development minister Rajendra Pandey informed that the governme-nt has already removed do-uble taxation at the local level. The governmenr, according to Pandey, is slowly increasing its budget at the local level to boost people’s living standards. Jagdish Pokhrel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission reiterated that the forthcoming three year interim-plan would integrate the issues concerning the poor.