Current Status, Problems, and Prospects of the Manufacturing Sector in Nepal

GP Chudal
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The manufacturing sector is a sector of the economy that focuses on producing tangible goods. This includes making the raw materials and putting together the finished products. The manufacturing sector is a key component of many national economies, and it plays an important role in creating jobs, driving innovation, and supporting economic growth.

current-status-problems-and-prospects-of-the-manufacturing-sector-in-nepal

There are many different steps in the manufacturing process, such as designing, prototyping, engineering, testing, production, and quality control. The manufacturing sector can make everything from simple consumer goods to complicated machinery and equipment.


The manufacturing sector is often divided into different sub-sectors, including:

    1. Food and beverage manufacturing
    2. Chemical manufacturing
    3. Textile manufacturing
    4. Machinery manufacturing
    5. Electrical equipment manufacturing
    6. Transportation equipment manufacturing


In this article, we will get into detail regarding the current status, problems, and prospects of the Manufacturing sector in Nepal.

Current Status of Manufacturing Sectors in Nepal

The manufacturing sector in Nepal is an important contributor to the country’s economy, accounting for about 10% of the country’s GDP and providing employment to a significant portion of the population. One of the most important industries in Nepal that make things is the textile industry. It makes up about 3% of the country’s GDP. The industry mostly makes things from cotton and wool, like yarn, fabric, blankets, carpets, and rugs. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal’s textile industry employed about 230,000 people in 2019 and was worth NPR 37 billion (about USD 314 million) in total production.


The food processing industry is another important manufacturing sector in Nepal. It includes processing fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, and other food items. According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, the food processing industry accounts for around 8% of Nepal’s GDP and employs around 240,000 people.


The metal products manufacturing industry in Nepal includes the production of steel products, aluminum products, copper products, and other metal products. According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, the metal products manufacturing industry accounts for around 2% of Nepal’s GDP and employs around 50,000 people.


Nepal’s electricity and electronics industry makes things like electric transformers, cables, wires, and other electrical products, as well as electronics like TVs, radios, and cell phones. According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the electricity and electronics manufacturing industry accounts for around 2% of Nepal’s GDP and employs around 25,000 people.


Table: Manufacturing Sector Contribution to GDP in Nepal (2022)

IndustryContribution to GDP (%)
Textile Manufacturing3
Food Processing8
Metal Products2
Electricity and Electronics2
Others85
Total100

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal


Table: Employment in the Manufacturing Sector in Nepal (2022)

IndustryEmployment (thousands)
Textile Manufacturing230
Food Processing240
Metal Products50
Electricity and Electronics25
Others280
Total825

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal


Problems of Manufacturing Sectors in Nepal

Let us examine the problems and challenges of Nepal’s manufacturing sector, focusing on key industries and trends.

a. Lack of Skilled Labor

One of the most serious issues in Nepal’s manufacturing sector is a lack of skilled workers. Many of the country’s workers don’t have the skills and training they need to use modern machines and tools, slows down innovation and productivity. According to the World Bank, only about 5% of Nepal’s labor force has a secondary or higher education.

b. Inadequate Infrastructure

Inadequate infrastructure is another major issue confronting Nepal’s manufacturing sector. Nepal’s roads, ports, and airports are frequently in disrepair and lack modern facilities, making transporting goods and raw materials difficult. Furthermore, Nepal’s energy sector is underdeveloped, with frequent power outages disrupting production and driving up costs.

c. Limited Access to Finance

Access to finance is another major issue confronting Nepal’s manufacturing sector. Many SMEs in the sector struggle to obtain the financing required to invest in modern machinery and equipment, limiting their ability to compete in global markets. The World Bank estimates that only about 5% of Nepalese SMEs have access to formal sources of financing.

d. Low Productivity

Another issue confronting Nepal’s manufacturing sector is low productivity. Many Nepalese businesses use outdated technology and manufacturing processes, limiting their efficiency and competitiveness. The World Bank estimates that Nepal’s labor productivity is only about 10% of the global average.


Table: Challenges facing the Manufacturing Sector in Nepal

ChallengeImpact on Manufacturing Sector
Lack of Skilled LaborHinders productivity and innovation
Inadequate InfrastructureHinders transport of goods and raw materials
Limited Access to FinanceLimits the ability to invest in modern machinery and equipment
Low ProductivityLimits efficiency and competitiveness

Source: World Bank

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Prospects of the Manufacturing Sector in Nepal

  1. Textile Industry: Nepal’s textile industry has tremendous potential for growth, with abundant raw materials such as cotton, wool, and silk. The industry is currently dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but there is an opportunity for larger firms to enter the market and take advantage of economies of scale. According to a report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the textile industry in Nepal has the potential to create up to 400,000 jobs by 2030.
  2. Food Processing Industry: The food processing industry in Nepal is also poised for growth, with a diverse range of agricultural products and a growing demand for packaged and processed foods. Informal and small-scale enterprises currently dominate the industry, but there is potential for larger firms to enter the market and introduce more advanced processing technologies. According to the World Bank, the food processing industry in Nepal has the potential to create up to 200,000 jobs in the coming years.
  3. Pharmaceuticals Industry: The pharmaceutical industry in Nepal is small, but there is potential for growth as the country’s healthcare system continues to develop. With a growing demand for affordable and high-quality medicines, there is an opportunity for domestic firms to expand their operations and compete in global markets. According to a Nepalese Ministry of Health report, the country’s pharmaceutical industry can grow by 10% annually and create up to 50,000 jobs by 2030.
  4. Hydropower Equipment: Manufacturing in Nepal has vast potential for hydropower generation, with an estimated 83,000 megawatts of untapped potential. This creates an opportunity for the domestic manufacturing of hydropower equipment, such as turbines and generators. According to the Asian Development Bank, Nepal’s hydropower equipment manufacturing industry can potentially create up to 10,000 jobs in the coming years.
  5. Handicrafts Industry: Nepal’s handicrafts industry is a major source of employment for rural communities, with a wide range of traditional crafts such as weaving, pottery, and woodcarving. There is an opportunity for the industry to grow by introducing modern designs and production methods and expanding into new markets. According to the UNIDO, the handicraft industry in Nepal can potentially create up to 300,000 jobs by 2030.
  6. Textiles and Garments Industry: The textiles and garments industry is one of the most promising sectors of Nepal’s manufacturing industry. The country has a long tradition of producing high-quality textiles and clothing, and its strategic location between India and China makes it an attractive destination for textile and garment manufacturers. According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, exports of textiles and garments increased by 4.2% in the fiscal year 2020/21, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  7. Agro-Processing Industry: The agro-processing industry is another promising sector of Nepal’s manufacturing industry. The country’s fertile land and favorable climate make it an ideal location for producing a wide range of agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables, and spices. The agro-processing industry can add value to these products by processing them into finished goods such as juices, jams, and pickles. According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, exports of agro-processed goods increased by 16.8% in the fiscal year 2020/21.
  8. IT and Electronics Industry: The IT and electronics industry is a rapidly growing sector of Nepal’s manufacturing industry. The country has a young and tech-savvy population, and its strategic location between India and China makes it attractive for IT and electronics manufacturers. According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, IT and electronics goods, exports increased by 14.4% in the fiscal year 2020/21.
  9. Construction Materials Industry: The construction materials industry is another promising sector of Nepal’s manufacturing industry. The country has a growing construction sector fueled by investment in infrastructure and housing. Manufacturing building materials such as cement, bricks, and steel could support the construction industry and create jobs in the manufacturing sector.

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