Cash crop production declines significantly

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 25:

Production of cash crops has significantly gone down in this fiscal year 2003-04 in comparison to previous years. The agriculture ministry has estimated that cultivation of sugarcane, jute and tobacco this year is likely to decrease. Statistics maintained by the ministry shows that the production of fruits and potatoes has also gone down by a significant percentage. “The slump has been attributed to unfavourable climatic conditions, besides farmer’s declining enthusiasm on investing in cash crops,” said Usha Adhikari of the ministry. It has been estimated that the drop in production of fruits is due to low rainfall in winter. According to the agriculture ministry, production of fruits in the current fiscal year 2003-04 has dropped by 9,000 metric tonnes.

The agriculture ministry estimated that the yield of tobacco in the current fiscal year will go down by five per cent. The cultivating land area used for tobacco farming has also decreased by six per cent this year. The decrease in production of tobacco has been observed for the past few years, although this year it has been the maximum, agriculture ministry reports. It is estimated that in the current fiscal year, the production of tobacco will not be more than 3,310 metric tonnes, which is far less than the market demand. Sugarcane, the major cash crop of terai region, is also witnessing a downfall in its production. According to the ministry, an unmanaged market could be the reason for the decline in the production of sugarcane. The problem faced by farmers in selling sugarcane, particularly bitter and prolonged disputes between sugar factories and farmers is feared to have led to a decline in sugarcane farming. The price offered by sugar factories is low, on top of which farmers are not paid in time. These are considered to be the main reasons which are discouraging farmers from sugarcane cultivation. The percentage decrease in the production of sugarcane could come around two per cent.

The production of jute has also slipped. 17,000 metric tonnes of jute was produced last year, whereas this year the total production has just come around 16,800 metric tonnes, states the agriculture ministry. A huge decline in the production of cotton has also been observed. Last year production of cotton was 61 metric tonnes. This year it is expected that production will not be more than 13 metric tonnes. Production of other products like ginger and chilly is also expected to decline this year.