Though there is huge potential for export of organic agriculture produce, the country has failed to increase exports due to supply side constraints that are more rigid in agriculture.
"Small holdings and fragmented land, low level of technology, inadequate investment and technology transfer, coupled with poor infrastructure and seasonal production has hit export potential," said chief of Lalitpur district at the Department of Agriculture Dr Krishna Prasad Pant, speaking at a workshop on 'Changing Trends in Nepalese Farming due to Trade and Global Warming' organised by Nepal Permaculture Group (NPG) here today.
The open trade regime led to a fast increase in import and foreign employment, apart from global competition for trade, hitting poor small holder farmers in the country, he said, adding that farmers will benefit if the customs have a standard quarantine that could check the low quality of imports being dumped here.
There is high risk of importing unsafe, low quality food not only for public health but also for the environment, he added.
In recent days, the import of food items has increased due to increasing remittance inflow. "But the productive manpower, who are working abroad, will not be able to work in farms when they return, which will ultimately make the country more dependent on imports," Pant opined.
Though trade facilitation reduces transaction costs related to trade, excessive documentation, difficult authorisation from multiple agencies, unclear or subjective criteria for applications of duties, and delays and uncertainties related to customs clearance have hit exports. However, gains from trade liberalisation are twice as large, if combined with trade facilitation measures.
Currently, the country is facing very high import dependency on cooking oil and cereals as agricultural exports are limited to a few products which are difficult to expand in wider areas.
According to recent data, the market for organic foods has been increasing by 20 per cent annually. "But Nepal has not been able to take maximum benefit from the market," said Nepal Permaculture Group (NPG), which is promoting organic farming in the country.