Rudra Ganga is in fact not the first company to attempt water export in Nepal. About 15 years ago, Himalayan Spring Water, also in Dhunche, had started exporting water to Korea. But it was unable to continue when its Korean investors pulled out.
The company, which is now owned by businessman Ajay Raj Sumargi, produces water under the Himalayan On Top brand. Although On Top also started exporting to Saudi Arabia and Dubai, the venture has not been as successful.
Bhandari of Rudra Ganga says that high air freight costs from Kathmandu is the biggest hurdle for expansion of the export market adding that it costs them about 60 cents (Rs72) to export 500ml of bottled water to Qatar. “For us, shipping costs are higher than production. Only by reducing it can we reach our potential,” he claims.
Distributor Kharel agrees, it costs the company Rs55 per kg while shipping bottled water to Qatar, which he says should be reduced to Rs35 per kg to make Nepal’s water market competitive. Similarly, he argues that air cargo charges should be waived when exporting water through state-owned Nepal Airlines to support businesses.
“If cargo cost is reduced by half, it will help in the export of other homegrown products too and in destination countries, we need support from Nepali missions abroad to market our products,” he adds.
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