Kathmandu, November 30
Anticipating possible scarcity of food grains due to the protracted blockade on the Nepal-India border, the government today decided to purchase food grains, mainly paddy, produced within Nepal and distribute it among the people through its own agencies.
A meeting of Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi and secretaries of concerned ministries held today at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers directed Ministry of Agricultural Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to ensure purchase and sale of the paddy produced in Nepal.
Paddy production in Nepal was 4.79 million tonnes in 2014-15 and the value of paddy produced in the last fiscal was Rs 96.4 billion, according to the record of Ministry of Agricultural Development. Value of rice and paddy imported from India in fiscal 2014-15 was Rs 24.76 billion, as per the ministry data.
“Nepal produces paddy worth Rs 100 billion every year over 14,25,000 hectares of land. However, it is inadequate for Nepal as we have rice-eating culture,” Basnet said. Nepal imports around 53 million tonnes of food grains every year, including rice, maize and wheat, according to him.
“When India banned export of rice in 2007 for four years due to the global food crisis, it resulted in smuggling and black marketing of rice in Nepal during the period, raising the price of rice then. The government’s step can work to prevent such a situation in near future,” said Basnet.
Today’s meeting also instructed Ministry of Agricultural Development and Ministry of Finance to make adequate arrangement to set up service centrers by arranging institutional structure and budget and ensure the justification of the service and sufficient human resources for purchasing and selling, according to Spokesperson of Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Uttar Kumar Khattarai Khatri.
The meeting directed Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to prepare and implement a plan of action to provide fuel for the transportation of medicines and medical instruments and materials as demanded by the Ministry of Health and Population.
It also directed National Planning Commission to make integrated record of developmental works carried out by all the ministries, Khatri said.
A version of this article appears in print on December 01, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.