Nepal | June 03, 2020

Govt ‘selling’ rice meant for quake victims

Tekendra Deuba
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Dhangadhi, August 19

The government has reportedly started selling rice sent by foreign countries as relief to victims of the massive earthquakes of last year.

As much as 76,000 quintals of rice sent by Bangladesh in relief to quake victims is now up for sale in hilly districts through various outlets of the Nepal Food Corporation, a government-owned entity.

Sources said some 17,000 quintals of the Bangladeshi rice arrived at the NFC’s far-western regional office in Dhangadi more than a month ago.

Chief of the logistics department at the office Jagat Bahadur Kunwar said 4,000 quintals of the rice has been sent to hilly districts of Bajhang, Bajura and Baitadi for sale from various outlets there.

“The remaining 13,000 quintals is in storage here,” said Kunwar, adding, “As the relief came late after which the victims’ food needs had been met, the government might have taken the decision to sell the unused rice.”

Upon being asked to comment on the sale of the rice, the NFC Regional Office Chief Gangadatta Bhatta said they had only followed the directive of higher authorities. The corporation is selling the rice at Rs 38 per kg, higher than that for subsidised rice by six rupees.

Meanwhile, the sale of the Bangladeshi rice, which is different from and more expensive than rice sold earlier by NFC outlets, has not been as expected. “It has been difficult to sell this rice because it is different from the kind we usually sell and is also more expensive,” said an NFC staff.

According to the NFC Bajhang’s Chainpur-based outlet, only 20 to 25 kg of the 310 quintals of the Bangladeshi rice has been sold so far from the outlet.

“After the rice entered Nepal, it must have been stranded in customs in Jhapa for long before it was sent here,” he said, adding, “It seems likely that the rice will rot and go to waste here as people aren’t purchasing it.”

A version of this article appears in print on August 20, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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