Imports weaken local supari market

Govinda Chhetri

Jhapa, June 24:

Supari (betel nut) farmers are a worried lot today, as exported supari is badly hurting the market of locally produced suparis. According to Nepal Supari farming Development Central Committee, most farmers make a mixture of 70 per cent imported supari and 30 per cent of Nepali supari and then sell it as a Nepali product. “The domestic market for other products like carpet, tea, pashmina and honey has already suffered severely following incidents when crude imported products were exported from Nepal as Nepali products,” said Suraj Bimali, the secretary of Nepal Supari Farming development central committee. He added that a similar fate is overtaking supari exports from Nepal too. There is a great potential for enhancing supari production in the country as supply continues to fall short of supply. According to Nepal Supari Farming Development Committee, in fiscal year 2059-60 and 2060-61, 34,140 and 34,600 metric tonnes of raw supari was produced respectively. In the next FY, 39,690 metric tonnes of supari is expected to be produced.

Eastern Jhapa district and its outskirts are popular for supari farming. Mainly, supari is produced in two municipalities and 13 VDCs of Jhapa district. But commercial supari farming is limited to Sanischare, Arjundhara, Shantinagar, Bahundangi and Budhabare VDCs. Last year 1,964 hectares of land was under supari farming. Although, there is a processing facility in the area, but it is unable to meet the entire production. Nepal is currently producing 6,800 tonnes of dry supari annually and about six to seven metric tonnes of supari is being imported annually. The Mechi customs office, Kakarvitta is the only border through which export of supari takes place. The recommendation of Nepal Supari Farming Development Committee and Chamber of Commerce, Mechi is a leading player in exporting supari from Nepal.