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Nepal in food surplus, continues to buy food

Staff writer |
Nepal has more than 400,000 tons of food surplus in fiscal year 2012/2013 but the country's rice imports doubled during the year. Nepal imported rice worth Rs 8.45 billion ($80 million).

Nepal mainly imports rice from India.Despite drop in cereal production by 7.6 percent to 8.74 million tons compared to last year's total output, the Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) has estimated that country enjoyed surplus of 408,000 tons of food in 2012/13. In 2011/12, Nepal had enjoyed food surplus of 886,000 tons.

"Technically we are in a food surplus situation. But the increasing consumption of rice means we are facing deficit of rice. We, however, enjoy surplus on maize and wheat," said Prabhakar Pathak, the spokesperson for the MoAD, told on Sunday. Nepal faces deficit of 900,000 tons of rice even though it has 262,000 tons and 1.05 million tons of rice and wheat, respectively, in surplus.

Out of total per capita food consumption of 191 kg, rice covers more than 122 kg, followed by maize (41 kg), wheat (17 kg), millet (9 kg) and other foods (2 percent). According to MoAD estimates, total requirement of food for people across the country stands at 5.24 million tons a year.

Total production of paddy, wheat, maize, millet, barley and buckwheat combined reached 8.74 million tons this year, down from 9.46 million tons recorded last year. Production of paddy, which makes up 52 percent of the total crop production, dropped by 11.3 percent to 4.50 million tons, thanks to drop in plantation area by about 110,000 hectares.

Similarly, production of maize, which makes up for 23 percent of the total crop production, declined by 8.3 percent to 1.99 million tons.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank, import of vegetables jumped by 75.7 percent to Rs 4.54 billion in 2012/13. Imports of fruits and live animals during the review year rose by 52.1 percent and 137.9 percent, respectively, to Rs 1.3 billion and Rs 1 billion respectively.

Nepal imported tea and tobacco worth Rs 50 million and Rs 2.06 billion during the year, up by 72 percent and 7.9 percent compared to the amount recorded in the last fiscal year.

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