Lokta defies recession

KATHMANDU: Untouched by recession, the export of Nepali Lokta paper grew by 14 per cent. In 2008, the total export of Nepali Lokta paper was more than Rs 300 million directly and Rs 200 million indirectly due to tourists arriving in Nepal.

“The first six months’ export data of Nepali Lokta paper this year has shown an increase of 14 per cent compared to the same period last year,” said Milan Dev Bhattarai, president of Nepal Handmade Paper Association (HANDPASS).

Due to continuous brand promotion and effective lobbying in different countries, Nepali Lokta paper has been successful in creating its identity at the international level. “It’s been more than three years that we are doing brand promotion of Nepali Lokta paper in the international market, and thus we were not affected by global recession,” said Bhattarai adding that export orders are quite satisfactory and there are possibilities of more orders from abroad.

The major countries importing Nepali Lokta paper are Switzerland, England, France, Germany, the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia.

“The major exportable items of Lokta paper are in the form of packaging paper, stationery items, greeting cards and different gift items,” he said.

Along with the demand for Nepali Lokta paper in the international market, HANDPASS is also preparing for its consumption in the domestic market. HANDPASS is trying to promote Nepali Lokta Paper for artistic purposes in the local market and simultaneously create another exportable item.

“We are very excited that with the new fiscal year Nepali handmade paper will be used for official documentation purposes. This will definitely increase the total export and consumption in the local market also by 25 per cent,” said Bhattarai.

HANDPASS is also trying to encourage use of Nepali Handmade paper in hotels, restaurants, private offices and organisations. “Market trends here are changing, and people seem interested in the use of Nepali paper as gift items and for official uses,” Bhattarai said adding that it was really encouraging to see the use of Nepali handmade paper in local business houses and organisations as well in documentation, legal purposes, certificates, visiting cards and greeting cards.

Nepali Lokta paper has already made registered its brand with the EU. Back home, it recently got the approval for use in government and legal correspondence. Nepali handmade paper in the early days used to be compulsory in government and legal correspondence, but it was suddenly discarded.

Till 1998, property ownership certificates issued by the Ministry of Land Reform and certificates of citizenship as well as passports issued by the Home Ministry used to be made from Nepali handmade paper of Nepal, but after that the paper for these purposes began to be imported from foreign countries. Instead of handmade

paper, white paper was used for the preparation of property ownership certificates and ivory paper for passports.