Nepali Lokta paper wending ahead

KATHMANDU: A committee of representatives from Nepal Handmade Paper Association (HANDPASS), the Home Ministry, Department of Standards and Measures and Department of Security Printing will soon come up with plans for the implementation of a cabinet decision to use Nepali handmade paper in citizenship certificates.

“Within two weeks, we are set to work out plans regarding the quality, printability and demand and supply side of Nepali handmade paper in citizenship certificates,” said Dr Milan Dev Bhattarai, president of HANDPASS.

According to Bhattarai, currently there is a demand for 40,000-50,000 sheets of handmade paper for the certificate preparation purpose and discussions are on about various strategies so that there isn’t a shortage of the handmade paperthe demand of the paper. The meeting will definatly be fruitful to make us aware about the supply and demand quantity of the paper for the citizenship certificate preparation.

According to Bhattarai, the branding of Nepali Lokta paper has brought positive vibes to this sector. “Along with the new budget, Nepali Lokta paper will be used in government official documentation,” he said adding that a budget of at least Rs 7 million is required for its procurement.

Talking about the trade of handmade paper abroad, Bhattarai said export orders are quite satisfactory and there are greater possibilities of more improvement in orders from abroad.

Major countries importing Nepali Lokta paper are Switzerland, England, France, Germany, the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. “Exportable items of Lokta paper are in the form of packaging paper, stationery items, greeting cards and various gift items,” he said.

Nepali Lokta paper has already had its brand registration in the EU and recently got approval to be re-used in the government legal correspondence work here at home.

Nepali handmade paper in the early days used to be compulsory for the government legal correspondence, but the practice was suddenly discontinued.

Prior to 1998 AD, property ownership certificates issued by the Ministry of Land Reforms and certificates of citizenship as well as passport issued by the Home Ministry used to made from handmade paper.

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

“We are very much excited as with the new fiscal year Nepali handmade paper will be used for the government official documentation purpose which will definalty increase the total export and consumption in the local market by 25 per cent,” Bhattarai said adding that it will help reduce poverty in the hilly region as more people are involved in the lokta plantation.

HANDPASS is also on its way to encourage use of Nepali Handmade Paper at Hotels, Restaurants, Private offices and Organisations. “Market trends here is also changing day by day, as people are seen interested in the use of Nepali paper as gift items and in the official uses, Bhattarai said further adding that its really overwhelming to notice the use of Nepali Handmade Paper in the local business houses and organisations as for documentation, legal purposes, certificates, visiting cards and greeting cards.

Untouched with recession the export of Nepali Lokta Paper observed an increment of 14 per cent. During 2008 the total export of Nepali Lokta Paper was more than Rs 300 million directly and about Rs 200 million indirectly.