Slump in price of black pepper worries farmers

BHARATPUR: Hundreds of local farmers in Jhapa district involved in black pepper plantation are concerned as their produce has remained unsold due to the dominance of imported black pepper in the local market.

Commercial farming of black pepper is done in Arjundhara, Mechinagar and Buddha Shanti in the district and it is produced in abundance. Yet the produce is pushed out of the market by the foreign imported black pepper.

Arjundhara Municipality’s Agriculture Division officer Shaliram Bhattarai said that the district produced 17 metric tonnes of black pepper in the last fiscal.

It was sold for Rs 1,600 per kilo last year while it could hardly fetch him around Rs 400 this year, shared Dinbandhu Pokharel, a local farmer of Arjundhara. Pokharel produced a total of 600 kilos of black pepper this year.

He claimed that the price of locally produced black pepper had slackened due to the black pepper smuggled to Nepal from third countries.

Similarly, Yogesh Niraula of Buddha Shanti Rural Municipality also suffers a similar fate. Niraula is forced to sell his produce at a low price.

He opined that this locally produced spice would only find market and fair price if the smuggling of the same from the third countries was curbed.

A total of 96,800 kilos of black pepper was imported in the last fiscal, according to Mechi Customs Office, Kakadbhitta.

Black pepper, considered to be the king of spices, is imported from India to Nepal that is brought to India from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, among other countries. Police recently had confiscated over 500 kilos of black pepper being smuggled to India from Bhansa Khola of Mechinagar in the district.