MoCS miffed at pulse exporters

KATHMANDU: The Department of Commerce (DoC) has forwarded a file to Ministry of Commerce and Supply (MoCS) seeking permission to export 16,000 metric tonnes (MT) of pulses. The government banned export of pulses on July 30, 2009 when pulse prices scaled up by 60 per cent due to shortage in the domestic market.

Last July, Rahar, Maas and Masuro pulses were at an all-time high of Rs 140, Rs 110 and Rs 80 per kilogramme, respectively. The government ban fetched positive results and prices got slashed significantly. Price of Masuro pulse was Rs 65 per kg last August.

DoC has forwarded the file as it believes it is feasible to export, said Anil Kumar Thakur, director general. According to him, mills have sought permission to export ‘whole red lentil without husk’ which is not consumed in Nepal.

However, a MoCS source rejected the argument saying, “As production is going to decrease this year, pulse export can wreak havoc in the domestic market.” All this happening due to pressure from exporters, he added. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, pulse production will decrease in Nepal by 30 per cent compared to last due to bad weather in the planting season.

Consumer rights groups echoed the MoCS source. Exporting pulses is not good for Nepal as the country is already suffering a shortage, said Jyoti Baniya of Consumer Rights Protection Forum (CRPF). “Export of pulses must be stopped,” he said. “The government should think of the people first, not of the interest of a handful of businesspersons.”

Earlier, on November 23, MoCS had given permission to export 9,500 MT pulses to 18 pulse mills and two state-owned trading companies — Salt Trading Corporation (STC) and National Trading Ltd (NTL). The quota was divided into 2,500 MT each for STC and NTL and 4,500 for the mills. However, STC and NTL have not exported the pulses yet.

The decision was taken at the demand of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.