Rice production to decline

Kathmandu, May 8 :

Production of rice, one of the major staple crops of Nepal, is to see a negative growth by 1.88 per cent in the fiscal year 2005-06 compared to the last fiscal.

According to preliminary estimates of Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), the production of rice stood at 42,09,279 metric tonnes in fiscal year 2005-06 compared to 42,89,827 metric tonnes in the last fiscal 2004-05.

Rice is ranked top among staple crops and the decline may push the GDP growth rate down in this current fiscal, according to NARC experts. Bhola Man Singh Basnet of NARC talking to The Himalayan Times said that the reason for decline, as per the report, is attributed to ‘bad weather’. Districts such as Banke and Kapilvastu remained dry and farmers could not plant rice as fields turned barren. According to him, planting of old seedlings also resulted in low production of rice and other crops.

Other major summer crops are rice, maize and finger millet. Maize production in the current fiscal 2005-06 increased to 17,34,417 metric tonnes compared to 17,16,042 tonnes in fiscal year 2004-05. This year it has risen by 1.07 per cent, says Basnet.

Another major summer crop finger millet’s production is also estimated to have risen by 0.38 per cent to 2,90,936 compared to 2,89,838 metric tonnes.

In fiscal year 2005-06, rice was planted on 15,49,447 hectares while maize was planed on 8,50,947 hectares, according to NARC. Finger millet was planted on 2,61,673 hectares of land.

According to Dr R P Sah, executive director of NARC, agriculture’s contribution to GDP stands at 38.3 per cent. He has stated that the current agriculture growth rate stands at three per cent while population growth rate stands at 2.2 per cent. Similarly, employment in agriculture is 65.6 per cent.

Investment in agriculture research pays high, says Basnet.

The government has invested only 0.2 per cent of agriculture gross domestic product (AGDP) on agriculture research.

This needs to be increased to at least one per cent to see a higher productivity in agriculture.

Strong coordination with concerned agencies such as National Planning Commission (NPC), ministry of agriculture and cooperatives, department of agriculture, department of livestock services, marketing agencies, credit banks, input supplying agencies and NARC have to be forged to achieve a sound agricultural growth in the country.