First instalment of 10,000 tonnes of rice pledged by Bangladesh in grant to Nepal arrived on Saturday.
Nepal had sought Bangladesh’s contribution to the Saarc Food Bank, an emergency reserve to be used in times of crisis in the South Asian region.
A total of 1,700 tonnes of the rice arrived in the country trough the Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglabanda route, according to Mechi Customs Office in Kakarbhitta, Jhapa.
“As per the Cabinet decision, tax has been fully exempted,” said Bhim Prasad Adhikari, chief of Mechi Customs.
A senior official from Bangladesh’s Commerce Ministry said the rice was provided to Nepal as per the instruction of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed.
“It is a small token of assistance from Bangladesh and we are always ready to help Nepal at the time of its needs,” he said.
According to Nepali officials, the rice will be added to the emergency stockpile as paddy production has dropped this fiscal year. Nepal is required to maintain a reserve of 33,000 tonnes as its commitment to the Saarc Food Bank, but the present stockpile totals only 19,000 tonnes. The food reserves are stored in the depots of Nepal Food Corporation (NFC).
As per the Agreement on Establishing Saarc Food Bank, member states are required to keep reserves of rice or wheat or a combination of both.
Markande Prasad Jaiswal, NFC’s chief for Mechi Zone, said almost all the NFC warehouses in Jhapa have been emptied to store the rice being made available by Bangladesh.
“We currently have just 1,300 quintal of rice remaining in the warehouses,” said Jailswal.
He said the rice received from Bangladesh will be stored in two warehouses in Bhadrapur, five in Birtamod and a few others. “We will make sure the rice does not rot,” he said.
Source: The Kathmandu Post