Drop in cereal crops production likely to hit agricultural growth this fiscal

Kathmandu, June 23

Growth of agriculture sector is estimated to plunge below one per cent in this fiscal, as the production of major crops (both summer and winter) is projected to drop significantly in this fiscal when compared to the previous fiscal.

Unveiling the ‘Preliminary Projection of Agriculture Output 2015-16’ here today, the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has said that production of cereal crops — paddy, maize, wheat, millet, barley and buckwheat — is forecast to drop by seven per cent this fiscal. Cereal crops have around 64 per cent weightage on total agricultural output and is expected to hover around 8.61 million tonnes in fiscal 2015-16 against 9.27 million tonnes in the previous fiscal.

Delayed monsoon, shortage of chemical fertilisers and drought affected the agriculture output this fiscal. This resulted in decline in production of both summer and winter crops this fiscal.

Production of major cereal crops — paddy and wheat — is expected to decline by 10 per cent to 4.3 million tonnes and 12.1 per cent to 1.74 million tonnes, respectively, in this fiscal. However, production of maize and buckwheat is projected to increase by four per cent to 2.23 million tonnes and 7.1 per cent to 11,640 tonnes, respectively. Other cereal crops, namely, millet and barley, are also estimated to fall by two per cent to 302,397 tonnes and 12.2 per cent to 32,806 tonnes, respectively.

In the last fiscal, production of cereal crops stood at 2,744 kg per hectare. It is expected to fall to 2,605 kg per hectare. This means productivity of cereal crops is expected to drop by five per cent.

Production and productivity of other crops, namely, pulses, garlic and cotton are also projected to fall. However, production of fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, oilseed and potatoes are expected to increase.

Productivity of major export commodities — cardamom, coffee and tea — is expected to decline. Though production area of these crops has expanded, the output is expected to increase only slightly due to low productivity.

Cardamom production is expected to hover at around 5,540 tonnes, which is a growth of 3.6 per cent as compared to the previous fiscal. Production of cardamom per hectare is forecast at around 432.6 kg in this fiscal from 459.2 kg of the previous fiscal.

Similarly, production of coffee and tea is expected to increase by 3.1 per cent each to 464 tonnes and 23,187 tonnes in fiscal 2015-16. However, per hectare production of tea and coffee is expected to hover around 1,159 kg and 228.5 kg, respectively, according to MoAD. Last year, productivity of tea stood at 1,162.8 kg per hectare, while that of coffee was 233.8 kg per hectare.

Production of fruits and vegetables is expected to increase this fiscal. Production of fruits is projected to rise by 10 per cent to 1.1 million tonnes and vegetables by 0.4 per cent to 3.64 million tonnes, respectively. Per hectare fruit production is expected to hover at around 9,208 kg, whereas that of vegetables at 13,500 kg, according to MoAD. Last fiscal, productivity of fruits stood at 8,952.7 kg per hectare and vegetables at 14,790 kg per hectare.

Productivity of potato is expected to plunge by six per cent this fiscal as drought has affected this crop. Potato production, though, is expected to increase by two per cent to 2.78 million tonnes in this fiscal. Likewise, production of ginger is projected to fall by around eight per cent to hover around 263,140 tonnes.

MoAD has predicted that food deficit will stand at around 350,000 tonnes this fiscal year.