Nepal may likely face sugar shortage during the festival season due to slow start to sugar import.
Officials say that delayed approval by the Finance Ministry has held up the whole import process.
“We received the ministry’s go-ahead on September 15,” said Sharmaila Neupane, information officer at Food Management and Trading Company. “It took us a few days to prepare for the global call for tenders.”
The consumption of sugar both for household and industrial purposes increases ahead of festival time.
On September 13, the Finance Ministry approved the import of 20,000 tonnes of sugar for the festive season.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies had asked to import 60,000 tonnes of sugar to meet the anticipated festival demand.
Madhav Timalsina, president of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, said due to the negligence of the government, a sugar crisis is imminent during the prime festival season.
Nepal’s annual sugar requirement is around 270,000 tonnes.
The country faces a deficit of about 100,000 tonnes of the sweetener annually which is fulfilled through imports by the private sector and sometimes by the two government companies.
Nepal used to produce 155,000 tonnes of sugar annually till a few years ago, which has now declined to 120,000 tonnes after sugar mill owners failed to pay sugarcane growers on time, according to the corporation.