The trend for the past few years is alarming: Nepal is now importing 80% of the grain it consumes, and spending on food imports has increased 62% in the last five years. Even crops like rice, dal and vegetables that are farmed extensively in Nepal, are imported. For instance, last year Nepal spent nearly Rs33 billion importing rice, Rs15 billion worth of maize and Rs15 billion for millet. The country bought Rs33billion worth of vegetables, mainly from India.
Imports of fruits, pulses and vegetables have also increased. This fiscal year, Nepal spent Rs 20.74 billion just importing fruits and cashew nuts. Fish and meat worth nearly Rs3 billion were also imported last year despite the abundance of livestock and aquaculture in the country.
Nepal grows abundant tea and coffee and production is going up, but the country still imported Rs11 billion buying tea and coffee from abroad. From honey to milk, from sugar to spices, almost everything Nepalis consume is imported.
Despite ambitious plans to raise agricultural production, and increase productivity of the land with irrigation, mechanisation and modern inputs, imports are going up faster than population increase. Since the policies have never been effectively implemented, output of grains, vegetables, fruits and other staples have not gone up, the shortfall can only be met by imports.