‘Ban poisoned vegetables’—Public enrage after govt puts decision to test Indian vegetables on hold

Don't step back from decision to conduct pesticide test on Indian vegetables

KATHMANDU, July 7: Students associated with Nepal Student Union, a student wing of the main opposition party Nepali Congress, took to the streets protesting the government’s decision to put on hold the testing of pesticides in fruits and vegetables imported from India.

The NSU students demonstrated in the capital carrying cards that said ‘Ban this poison vegetables’, ‘Three crores Nepalis ask for healthy vegetables’, and others urging the government not to step back from its decision made just two weeks ago.

The protesters also carried vegetables, and some wore them around the neck to protest the government’s decision.

The Government of Nepal on June 17 had instructed the border authorities to test the level of pesticides in fruits and vegetables imported from India before allowing them into Nepal, one of its largest vegetable markets.

However, on July 4, the government decided to put the decision of pesticide testing on hold until further notice until further arrangements following the mounting from the authorities at Indian Embassy who claimed the decision to test Indian vegetables and fruits before allowing them in Nepal had affected their vegetable export, according to reports. The decision has drawn criticisms across the country.

The Indian Embassy had written to the Nepal government asking to lift the test requirements after several Indian trucks carrying vegetables were left stuck at the various border for days.

The request to resume the entry of Indian vegetables and fruits were made based on the provisions of the World Trade Organization and bilateral trade agreements between the two countries, according to reports.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies said it revoked its decision to conduct pesticide tests in vegetables imported from India due to the lack of technical preparations and pressure from traders.

In the past 11 months alone, Nepal has imported vegetables worth Rs 26.46 billion and fruits worth Rs 17.03 billion, according to the Department of Customs.

On Saturday, Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Ltd, an umbrella organization representing the country’s small farmers, also urged the government not to backtrack its decision of conducting pesticides test on Indian fruits and vegetables saying allowing the non-tested vegetables and fruits is the threat to consumers’ health.