Demand of onions from China has soared in Nepal due to the export ban on onions by India, according to authorities.
Nepal has remained heavily dependent on India for onions as limited local production does not fulfil the demand of the domestic market, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, following India's onion crisis since September and a strict ban imposed for the last 10 days, the demand of Chinese onions was surging in Nepal.
With around 90-100 metric tonnes of onions every day in the past, Nepal received 40-45 metric tonnes of onions from China after the ban, taking up 50 per cent of the total, according to Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market, one of the biggest and oldest vegetable markets that cater the maximum demand of Kathmandu.
"But since the last 10 days, we have 100 pe rcent Chinese onions in the market," Tejendra Prasad Poudel, Executive Director at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, told Xinhua.
According to the board that handles over 500 wholesale vegetable and fruits shops in the premise, there had been only occasional import of Chinese onions in a small volume in the past, particularly before the Indian ban came into force.
The official informed that there was a limited quantity of smuggled Indian onions for around two months until it completely stopped since the last 10 days.
"The Chinese onion is being imported in Nepal through both Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani border point. Chinese onion has been a timely alternative for Nepali consumers who are reeling under crisis," the official added.
Traders said they have been using both the border points to import onions recently and the custom clearance task for onions has been much smoother than before.
"Earlier, Chinese onions were sold and consumed only in Kathmandu valley. But since last few days, we have been sending it to different cities like Narayanghat, Butwal and Pokhara. It's been going everywhere," Rishi Shrestha, a trader in the Kalimati market, told Xinhua.
The wholesale price of Chinese onions is in range of 110-140 Nepali Rupees per kg in the Kalimati market, whereas it is sold in different rates outside. However, the price of Indian onions had reached up to 250 Nepali Rupees per kg.
According to Trade and Export Promotion Centre, the Himalayan country imported onion worth 5.62 billion Nepali Rupees in the last fiscal year 2018-19.
It imported fresh onions and shallots worth 14.4 million Nepali Rupees and dried onions worth 5.19 million Nepali Rupees during the first quarter of the current fiscal year that began in mid-July.
Despite of being an agricultural country, Nepal relies on other countries especially India, not just for onions but many other vegetables and fruits.