18 DECEMBER 2014 KATHMANDU – Nepalese economy is based on farming and Paddy is the main corp of Nepalese daily life, Due to climate change and late rainfall, expected production of paddy output this year is to drop by 5.1 percent to 4.78 million tonnes this fiscal year, the Ministry of Agricultural Development said unveiling a preliminary summer crop production report on Tuesday.
Nepal produced 258,435 tonnes less paddy compared to last year largely due to a late monsoon and untimely rainfall. The ministry said that expanding urban areas, land plotting for residential development and natural disasters were the other reasons behind the fall in output.
More than 61,000 hectares of paddy fields have been left uncultivated. In addition, 23,900 hectares were damaged by floods and landslides this year. Paddy productivity has dropped 1 percent to 3.36 tonnes per hectare.
Based on the market value of Rs 20 per kg, the country produced paddy worth Rs 100 billion this year, Rs 5 billion less than last year, the ministry said.
Similarly, the country’s maize output, which is the second staple crop after paddy, fell 6 percent to 2.14 million tonnes. The figure represented a drop of 137,931 tonnes. The areas under maize cultivation shrank 5 percent to 882,395 hectares. Maize productivity also dropped 1.1 percent to 2.43 tonnes per hectare.
The ministry has estimated the value of this year’s maize output at Rs 50 billion.
“Paddy cultivation this year was severely affected by a late monsoon and untimely rainfall,” said Hem Raj Regmi, chief statistician at the ministry. “As paddy transplantation during the June-September period in most of the eastern Tarai districts was not completed, the impact was reflected in the output.”
Rainfall during the paddy transplantation period (June-September) was below normal at 94 percent. The monsoon was recorded at 76 percent during the key period of June.
However, the ministry has attributed the drop in maize output to crop diversification as most of the farmers had switched to vegetable farming because of the higher and quicker returns.
Climatic fluctuations have a profound influence on Nepal’s agriculture. Paddy production dropped sharply by 11.3 percent to 4.50 million tonnes in 2012-13 when the country suffered a drought with rainfall reaching 83.3 percent during the four key months.
In 2013-14, rainfall was good during the plantation period, and paddy output jumped 12 percent to 5.04 million tonnes. Government officials said that a drop in the output of summer crops would negatively impact not only the country’s food security but also the economic growth target.
Despite a bumper paddy harvest and a surplus food reserve of 800,000 tonnes in the last fiscal, Nepal Rastra Bank’s statistics show that the country imported rice worth Rs 12.37 billion that year, up 46.4 percent from before.
Ministry spokesperson Uday Chandra Thakur said that due to rising disposable incomes stemming from swelling remittance, Nepalis were eating better quality foreign rice leading to a jump in imports. “Rice imports are mainly of ‘masino’ rice and this shows that the people no longer like eating the traditional ‘mota’ rice.”
Meanwhile, millet and buckwheat output has been projected to increase 1.4 percent to 308,488 tonnes and 5.2 percent to 10,870 tonnes respectively this year.