Wheat export goes on despite ban

Biratnagar, May 9:

Though the government has banned export of food items keeping in view with the recent global food crisis, export of wheat to Bangladesh is going on unabated.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply had banned the export of food items April 30 to tackle with the rise in food prices, but businessmen here have not stopped exporting wheat to Bangladesh till the date.

Traders said they were exporting the food grain as per the letters of credit (LCs) issued before the decision on the ban. According to Morang Industrial Organisation, 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat worth Rs 3.5 billion was yet to be exported as per the LCs issued before April 30.

Nepal had exported 87,000 metric tonnes of wheat by April this year through the Kakadbhitta point alone.

Some other businessmen suggested the government to immediately stop the export so as to prevent a hike in food prices in the country. They said the system of issuing LC for wheat export was impractical.

According to a source at Mechi customs, export of wheat to Bangladesh will go on for the next six months if all the LCs issued before April 30 were to be cleared. The source said thousands of trucks loaded with wheat are waiting their turn to enter Bangladesh.

If the additional 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat was exported, it would certainly fuel a hike in food prices in Nepal, warned senior vice-president of Morang Trade Association Mahesh Jaju.

The association said whole grain, rather than products, was being exported to Bangladesh. Many businessmen have been exporting the wheat they had earlier imported from India. The association said the businessmen resorted to export of wheat to Bangladesh after they found a handsome profit in export. They are selling the wheat to Bangladesh at the rate of Rs 17.50 per kg while they had imported it at Rs 15 per kg from India.