Kathmandu, November 2
Low and inconsistent supply of agriculture inputs has been seen as one of the major difficulties in boosting agriculture production in the country.
According to recent ‘Statistical Information on Nepalese Agriculture’ published by Agri-Business Promotion and Statistics Division under the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), low and inconsistent supply of agriculture inputs, less irrigation facility, and lack of proper mechanisation are the major reasons for the low yields in agriculture.
A majority of farmers keep seeds from their previous harvest for the next plantation season and replacement of such seeds with high quality seeds is very low. Supply of high quality seeds is also inconsistent despite the high demand.
As per MoAD statistics, the government supplied 1,200 tonnes of improved paddy seeds in fiscal 2011-12, which was reduced to 770 tonnes in fiscal 2012-13. Though the supply of high quality seeds increased in fiscal 2013-14 to 2,079 tonnes and to 3,714 tonnes in 2014-15, the supply went down to 3,382 tonnes in the last fiscal 2015-16.
Paddy is the major agriculture crop in the country that contributes around 20 per cent in the total agriculture production and the government has commissioned paddy mission programme in high-yield Tarai districts but low replacement rate of seeds has been affecting productivity. Paddy is being cultivated in 1.43 million hectares of land but improved paddy seeds are being used in only 12 per cent of the total cultivated area, according to Uday Chandra Thakur, secretary of MoAD.
The National Seed Company, a government entity, supplies negligible amount of seeds as compared to its demand in the country.
“Low production is due to lack of easy availability of improved seeds in the farmers’ vicinity and also due to lack of awareness regarding the importance to replace local seeds with improved seeds,” said Thakur, adding, “The concerned agencies must ensure consistent supply of improved seeds so that farmers can be certain about their availability.”
“Nepal largely depends on rain-fed agriculture due to less irrigation facility. Despite this, agriculture production can be enhanced through supply of improved seeds and organic fertilisers, which enrich soil and increase our production base.”
The government has also been providing grant in agriculture inputs like seeds, fertilisers and other machinery, which should result in improved agriculture production. However, productivity of major crops is in a declining trend since fiscal 2013-14. Per hectare paddy production was 3,394 kg in fiscal 2013-14, which declined to 3,360 kg in fiscal 2014-15 and is projected to hover around 3,007 kg in fiscal 2015-16.
Secretary Thakur stressed that the government needs to expedite the replacement of seeds mostly being used from the previous harvest with improved seeds.
“Consistent supply of seeds, fertilisers (both chemical and organic), required machinery and expansion of irrigation facility are vital to uplift agriculture from the subsistence level. On the other hand, the institutional capacity of the agencies under MoAD, including seed and fertiliser supplier, needs to be enhanced,” Thakur said.
A version of this article appears in print on November 03, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.