Lentil production up, prices too

Kathmandu, July 21:

The retail price of lentils have risen subsequently in the domestic market over the last decade. According to a report, although the production of lentils has increased their prices have not come down.

In the Tarai belt of the country, there are some 6,00,000 to 7,00,000 farms involved in lentil production and spending on an average about 70 labour days per hectare cultivating lentil.

“This is an approximate equivalent of 30,200 full-time jobs,” states the data from Agro Enterprise Centre under the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

The production is thus spread in a large number of production units which cultivate on an average about 0.2 to 0.3 hectare per family.

The total production of lentils in 2005-06 was 1,58,000 metric tonnes (MT), according to

the report.

Domestic market and farm household consumption from is 1,00,000 to 1,30,000 MT per year.

Apart from domestic consumption, Nepal exports lentils. Total lentil exports amounted to 35,000 MT in 2005-06, with an estimated value of $21 million (Rs 1,305.6 million approximately).

Nepal stands nineth among the top 10 lentil exporting countries. Nepal exports lentil to India, Bangladesh, Korea, USA and Bhutan.

There are 15 lentil mills (dal mills) that have a total installed processing capacity of 30 to 60 MT per hour (average two to four MT/hour per mill) and over a dozen major millers and exporters exporting from 20,000 to 60,000 MT per year.

There are reportedly some 140 lentil landraces in Nepal, states Agro Enterprise Centre/FNCCI.

“Seeds used by farmers originated from three major sources like improved seeds deriving from the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) seed multiplication programme that released eight varieties of lentils over 25 years. It is about to release three more varieties of lentils of Nepali pink and small lentils (2.2 to 2.5 gram/100 seed): One for Tarai (ILL 7723) and two for the hills (ILL 7982 & ILL 6829). Local seeds are also kept by farmers at the household level and imported from neighbouring India (either via formal or informal channels) or overseas markets.

Among all the lentil, Nepal’s pink, small-sized sweet lentil renowned.