Late monsoon disappoints Tarai farmers

Kathmandu, July 27

Late monsoon has dampened the spirits of farmers in Tarai region, as the paddy seedbeds have already crossed planting time and cultivation has been carried out on only 64 per cent of the total arable area of 1,486,951 hectares.

Tarai, which is also known as the rice bowl of the country, covers 70 per cent of the production area and equal amount in terms of rice production. While farmers continue to wait for the rain, the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) is worried about impact of over-aged seedlings on productivity.

Till the fourth week of July last year, 67 per cent of the area in Tarai had been cultivated. However, late plantation had adversely impacted the production last year. MoAD officials suspect that production of rice may fall this year compared to last fiscal due to delayed monsoon.

According to the MoAD, paddy plantation has been carried out on 67.6 per cent of total 1,486,951 hectares till date, compared with 71 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

Paddy plantation was delayed this year due to the late monsoon and below average rainfall caused by the El Nino phenomenon. However, the impact of El Nino has been less in the far-western and mid-western development regions and paddy plantation has been carried out on 97.2 per cent and 80.7 per cent of the total cultivation area of 175,500 hectares and 183,174 hectares, respectively.

Central development region has lagged behind other regions with paddy plantation carried out on only 50.6 per cent of the arable area of 386,704 hectares. Likewise, paddy plantation has been carried out on only 58.1 per cent of total 417,007 hectares in eastern development region.

“There was below average rainfall in eastern and central development region due to El Nino phenomenon,” explained Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary of MoAD. In western development region, paddy plantation has been carried out on 77.6 per cent of total 324,566 hectares.

MoAD has said that paddy plantation has been carried out on 81.3 per cent of total area of 61,620 hectares in high hills; 74.2 per cent of 409,393 hectares in mid hills; and 63.9 per cent of 1,015,933 hectares in Tarai region.

Output of rice was calculated at 4.79 million metric tonnes in last fiscal, which was five per cent less compared to 5.05 million tonnes of fiscal 2013-14. Timely monsoon had boosted production of rice in fiscal 2013-14.

Paddy is a major cereal crop, which contributes 20 per cent to the total agricultural production and about seven per cent to the country’s economy. Government data reveal that 60.4 per cent of the country’s working age population is involved in agriculture.