Fall in paddy production likely

Himalayan News Service

Lalitpur, June 11:

With the early onset of monsoon, farmers of Kathmandu Valley have already begun planting paddy. Experts, however, claim that the early monsoon and planting could probably result in a decrease in quality and production. "The ideal time for paddy plantation in the Valley is from the third week of June till the end of August," said Bal Krishna Shrestha, technical officer at Agronomy Division, Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC). "Monsoon arrived almost a fortnight earlier this year," he said.

"Quality of rice will go down due to the early rains," opined Rup Kumar Bajracharya, quality expert at the Agriculture Department, Pulchowk. He said this is so because the soil needs a certain period of time to gain adequate minerals, and if rainfall is early it will not have adequate time to complete this cycle of gaining and retaining the necessary minerals.

"The water level in paddy fields should be around 10cm, and decrease and increase in the level will either make the plant fall or turn pale, directly affecting production," said another quality expert Gopal Sharma.

Khumal and Chinung are two most widely planted varieties in Kathmandu. Khumal Chhar is widely grown for rice and Chinung 242 is said to be the best for beaten-rice, according to Agriculture Department, Pulchowk. Other varieties grown here are Khumal 11, mansuli and mota. Kathmandu has one of the most fertile arable land and the yield of this region surpasses those of all other valleys in Nepal. Paddy production in the fiscal year 2002/03 was 26,534, 17,345 and 14,654 metric tonnes in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur respectively.

More than 83 per cent Nepalis are dependent on agriculture, and any decrease in production means huge loss to the entire nation. As a farmer of Lubu said, "Let the early monsoon not lessen production as it is the only source of income for my family of seven." With the government developing new residential areas and barracks on fertile land, local farmers are more than ready to sell their lands, thus bringing down area of agricultural land.