There was a time when rice was Nepal’s major export item

Injina Panthi / April 18, 2018

Farmers in a Parsa village filling paddy in gunny sacks in December 2015.                          Photo: Sujit Mainali

Over the past few years, media reports have been stating that Nepal’s rice import has been increasing. But there was a time when Nepal used to export rice.

Nepal had formally started exporting rice in 1974 AD. The government had established seven companies specifically for exporting rice. These companies were: Mechi Dhanchamal Niryat Company Limited, Koshi Anchal Dhanchamal  Niryat Company Limited, Sagarmatha Dhanchamal Niryat Company, Janakpur Anchal Dhanchamal Niryat Company, Narayani Anchal Dhanchamal Niryat Company Limited, Lumbini Anchal Dhanchamal Niryat Company Limited, and Sudoor Paschimanchal Dhanchamal Niryat Company limited.  Later, in 1975 August, yet another company, Seti Mahakali Dhanchamal Niryat Company, was set up.

In these companies, the government and cooperatives had 51 percent stake while the remaining 49 percent stake was held by businessmen, mill owners and farmers.

Several news reports and articles published in Gorkhapatra between 1974 and 1975 mentioned that the agriculture sector’s share in the total national export was 65 percent with rice being the major export commodity. Since rice dominated the export basket, the government set up these companies to facilitate export.

Rice comprised 40 percent of Nepal’s total exports (Nepal’s Rice Exports, Ramesh Munkarmi, Gorkhapatra Daily, December 15, 1974). In the article, the writer has recommended that Nepal needs to explore market for its rice in order to balance its imports and exports.

On August 23, 1975, a year after their establishment, the rice import-export companies’ progress report was as follows. These companies exported rice mainly to India.

Companies Purchase target
(metric ton)
Total purchase (metric ton) Export target (metric ton) Export agreement (metric ton)  Total export (metric ton)
Koshi Dhanchamal Company 18,750 27,214 15,000 20,277 17,300
Mechi Dhanchamal Company 25,000 29,865 0 19,531 9,000
Sagarmatha Dhanchamal Company) 15,000 23,600 12,000 8,500 5,000
Janakpur Dhanchamal Company 15,000 10,271 12,000 4,720 3,500
Narayani Dhanchamal Company 18,750 13,500 15,000 100,70 8,000
Lumbini Dhanchamal Company 17,500 14,504 14,000 9,147 7,296
Sudoor Pashimanchal Dhanchamal Company 15,000 6,861 12,000 0 5,194


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