MoAD to support drought-hit farmers

Kathmandu, August 5

Considering the possible drop in paddy output this year due to prolonged drought in a few districts of the eastern Tarai, mid-hill and mid-western parts of the country, the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has decided to carry out small irrigation programmes, like installation of shallow tube wells, irrigation canal improvement and drought resistance plantation technology.

These programmes will be carried out promptly as the paddy plantation period is going to end by the third week of August, according to Yogendra Kumar Karki, spokesperson for MoAD.

The MoAD has allocated Rs 185 million for these programmes from various projects, namely, Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and Irrigation and Water Resource Management Project.

“We are going to install around 2,500 shallow tube wells in 15 districts and also provide support of up to Rs 500,000 for irrigation canal improvement to each community in the high-yielding districts.”

This year paddy plantation has been low in some districts, which are considered as the rice bowl of the country — like Dang, Banke and Morang. Though plantation rate is quite high in other high-yield districts of Tarai like Bara and Parsa, drought has adversely affected these districts after plantation was carried out.

The programme will focus on districts that contribute significantly to the total output, as per Karki.

According to him, the MoAD will carry out drought resistance plantation technology in the districts, where plantation is yet to be carried out. “We plan to introduce System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which needs less water and less seedlings, because seedbeds in these districts are overaged or crossed the plantation period.”

Under the SRI technology, paddy can be planted using 35 per cent less water compared to normal plantation method.

The MoAD has set a target to increase the paddy output by 3.25 per cent in this year to 5.4 million metric tonnes compared to 5.23 million tonnes of last year. With the drought threatening to affect the production of paddy, the MoAD has said that it is going to launch the irrigation and drought resistance plantation technology to meet the production target of this year.

According to Karki, the MoAD has expected to carry out plantation on 90 per cent of the total arable area of 1.5 million hectares.

Output of the paddy depends on favourable monsoon. This is because farmers have to depend on rainfall to carry out plantation due to lack of proper irrigation facility. Only 36 per cent of the arable land of the country has irrigation facility.

At a glance

Year            Production

2013-14       5.04 million

2014-15       4.8 million

2015-16       4.3 million

2016-17       5.23 million

2017-18       5.4 million (target)

Production in metric tonnes; Source: MoAD