The Nepal government has requested India to facilitate the supply of paddy, rice and sugar, a senior official said here on Wednesday, as a precautionary measure to mitigate any possible food scarcity in the upcoming festive season.
The request was made through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Indian authorities last week, Commerce and Supplies Ministry Joint Secretary Ram Chandra Tiwari said.
“Nepal has requested India to provide one million tonnes of paddy, 100,000 tonnes of rice, and 50,000 tonnes of sugar,” he said.
Though there is no immediate shortage of rice and sugar in the market, there are rumours about its possible scarcity following India’s decision to ban the export of non-basmati white rice to the international market. So as a precautionary measure, the Nepal government has asked India to supply these food items, Tiwari said.
There are also concerns that traders might resort to hoarding these goods, potentially driving up prices as the festive season approaches, market analysts opine.
Nepal’s festive season, which occurs between October and November, could be at risk of experiencing elevated prices for rice and sugar if measures to ensure a steady supply are not effectively implemented, they say.
On July 20, the Indian government banned exports of non-basmati white rice to boost domestic supply and keep retail prices under check during the upcoming festive season. Non-basmati white rice constitutes about 25 per cent of total rice exported from the country.
Considering the Indian ban on non-basmati rice exports and the current weather phenomenon in Nepal, there may be a food crisis for a short period, say experts.
Nepal is heavily dependent on imported food, mostly from India.
According to a recent report in The Kathmandu Post newspaper, from April 2021 to March 22, Nepal imported 1.4 million tonnes of rice — 1.38 million tonnes of non-basmati and 19,000 tonnes of basmati rice — from India, the highest import on record.
Nepali traders say that immediately after India stopped the export of rice, retail prices jumped by NRs 200 to NRs 250 per 25-kg bag. They say that prices are expected to increase further, particularly during the festive season, the report said.
Nepal’s request for foodgrains came as India is importing tomatoes from the Himalayan nation to arrest the spike in prices following heavy rainfall in key procuring centres in the