“Salt Trading Corporation (STC) was commenced way back in 1963 AD with a prime objective to make iodized salt available to every Nepali citizen. And, unfortunately, such objective has been achieved with phenomenal success,” says Urmila Shrestha, Chief Executive Officer, Salt Trading Corporation.
Before 1998, the prevalence rate of iodine deficiency was around 45 percent, but the same has now gone down to almost zero. Similarly, more than 92 percent of the total Nepali households are using iodized salt. This is also something remarkable given that Nepal, as a country committed to the universal salt iodization strategy, is required to have 90 percent of the total households use iodized salt.
According to Shrestha, such accomplishments were possible due to the active support of the government and other private stakeholders to the efforts made by her company. “We launched massive awareness campaigns in every nook and corner of the country regarding the health benefits of iodized salt. Such campaigns were actively coordinated by them (the government and private parties,’ she concurs.
Established way back in 1963, STC is a leading business organization in Nepal operating under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Its major corporate office is situated at Kalimati, Kathmandu with around 90 zonal, branch, sub-branch and depot offices scattered across the country. Similarly, it boasts of the nationwide network of 6,000 dealers.
It is engaged in trade, import, export, manufacturing (production), processing, supply and distribution of a vast diversity of goods and services.
Food products, agricultural products, construction materials, machinery and tools, paper products and other goods are the main commodities for trade and business.
Along with iodized salt, it has been offering a wide range of daily consumable products like sugar, rice, pulses beans, lentil, oil wheat etc. Similarly, it has also been dealing with paper and allied products, gas and allied products (including gas regulator and hose pipes), coal and cement, among others.
Additionally, it has been selling both subsidized and non-subsidized chemical fertilizers. The subsidized fertilizers include Urea, Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) and Potassium while the non-subsidized ones are Ammonium Sulphate and Single Super Phosphate The annual sales volume of the former stands at 100 thousand metric tonnes, whereas the same of the latter is 25 thousand metric tonnes.
“After we started to deal with chemical fertilizers in 2068, there has been some mitigation in their shortage in the market’ says Shrestha adding, “Previously, there used to be clashes between police and farmers in fertilization distribution centers because of the lack of enough fertilizers in the market. But now the situation has improved to some extent as we are making efforts to smoothen their market supply .”
Similarly, the STC has a major investment in Hetauda-based Khadya Udhyog Limited, which is involved in producing the improved wheat seeds amounting to 900 to 1,200 tonnes per year.
“Since its very inception, the corporation has been serious towards the notion of food security. And it’s involvement in food production related activities has much to do with this fact,” says Shrestha.
Apart from food security, the STC has also been undertaking tasks related to disaster management. For instance, it holds a 30 percent stake in Future Works Building Solutions, which aims to provide safe and efficient construction solutions in Nepal.
“After the massive loss of lives and property triggered by the disastrous earthquakes of 2015, the need for constructing safer, lighter and better structures- has been widely felt. In this light, Future Works manufactures steel frames, studs and concrete tiles needed for building both residential and commercial structures,” says Shrestha.
The company was established two years back in Hetauda in which the USA-based Pinnacle LGS LLC and other local partners also have their stakes.
It seems that the STC is doing fairly well in terms of business transactions. A decade ago, its annual turnover was just Rs 1.75 billion while the same now stands at Rs 9 billion. Shrestha attributes the factors like increasing demand for products, gradual expansion in the distribution networks and customer base and, business diversification to such arithmetic growth.
According to her, the loyal and hardworking employees have also made it possible for the corporation to stand in good stead. Equipped with an army of 450 staffers, it is also providing employment to some 900 workers and laborers.
“It is primarily the quality of human resources that determines the overall growth of any organization. As such, we are firmly focused on grooming the employees for their professional growth. For instance, the corporation has been sending them to foreign countries like India and Bangkok for various kinds of professional training,” divulges Shrestha.
The SCT has also been honoring the dedicated and diligent staffers every year by distributing awards. This is aimed at instilling the sense in the workforce that good works are always rewarded, according to her. The corporation also periodically sends Nepali farmers to India for training on the effective use of fertilizers.
Shrestha claims that the STC is moving forward in line with its set objectives, guiding principles and vision. “The prime philosophy of the STC is to act more as a service-oriented organization than a commercial profit-making enterprise. With this in mind, we are trying our best to serve all the people of the country who are our valuable customers.