Some products of Nepal such as ginger, pashmina and medicinal and aromatic herbs have much potentials and are of high quality meeting stringent needs of importers
Nepal government has come up with a strategy of enhancing exports of various products as per the Nepal Trade Integration strategy. Such a strategy has been mooted by the Ministry of Commerce for four products—large cardamom, handmade paper, tea and coffee. Towards this end, the value chain of these goods would be improved starting from production to the export market. It is generally believed that there is much demand for these products. The focus would be on value addition of these products which is sorely lacking. For instance, Nepal exports large cardamom to India but with little value addition. There is high demand for these in the Middle Eastern countries where they are used as spices and also for medicinal purposes. Nepal produces 6,500 tonnes of cardamom every year. Similarly there is a high demand for Nepali coffee in countries like South Korea, Japan, China and Germany. Nepal produces 434 tonnes of coffee annually.
Nepali tea is also favoured in the global market and Nepal’s annual export of tea amounts to around $6 million dollars. Meanwhile, Nepali paper is being exported to 15 countries. This product has high potential of value addition and can be exported to more other markets. Apart from value addition of various products the packaging must be done as required by those which buy them. Equally importantly, the products should be branded with the registration of trademark to countries importing them, at the same time identifying other potential destinations for export. This would provide Nepali products with the competitive edge making it possible to diversify exports. The country would benefit immensely but at the same time branding, marketing and product designs should promote the export of Nepali goods, not present now.
Since Nepal is a least developed country it could do well to promote its cheap labour force which means that its products would be less expensive and therefore more competitive. This is not going to be easy as there are many competitors involved. Nepal could also do with a skilled labour force, which is sadly lacking at present. Therefore, it is essential to provide the necessary training. As Nepal is an agrarian country it would be wise for it focus on agro-based enterprises. This would mean that the fruits of development would be within the reach of people at the grass-roots level. We also need banks to provide soft loans with less hassles so that the entrepreneurs would possess the incentives to engage in various agro-industries. It is important to see that the quality of the products it exports are up to the international level. If it was able to do so then it would be well on the road of boosting exports which are very dismal at present. Some products of Nepal such as ginger, pashmina and medicinal and aromatic herbs have much potentials and of high quality meeting the stringent requirements of the importers. The government should seek supports of development partners so that its export strategy is successful. This is not going to be easy but considering the market for export and demand of certain Nepali products Nepal could benefit.
Lured by business motive many private houses and business complexes are being built close to the World Heritage Site at Basantpur and other parts of the Valley despite the fact that the municipal authorities have told the concerned to abide by the rules set by all municipalities. A case in point is that Maharjan Business Associates Pvt. Ltd got permission to build a business complex close to the Basantpur Durbar Square in 2016, but it violated the rules set by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC).
KMC had given permission to construct the business complex without any basement, only a 35-foot tall building. The room and ceiling of each floor should be 7-foot-7. The building is halfway under construction and it is going to be 42-foot high. The Kathmandu Valley Development Authority has the legal right to dismantle buildings built violating the norms. The height of a new building was limited to only 35-foot high considering the proximity of Malla-era treasures and historical monuments. The beauty of the historic assets will be ruined if the concerned authorities do not take legal action against those violating the rules. It is the duty of the KMC to preserve historical structures intact.
A version of this article appears in print on October 13, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.