Paddy output unlikely to come down despite monsoon havoc

Kathmandu, October 30

With country’s farmers busy cutting paddy, the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has said that paddy production in the ongoing fiscal year is unlikely to come down though unfavourable monsoon had inundated many paddy farmlands this year.

MoAD has estimated per hectare productivity of paddy in the country to likely increase to 3.5 tonnes in 2017-18 against 3.37 tonnes per hectare productivity recorded in previous fiscal, thereby pushing up the overall production of paddy in the country.

“The monsoon had affected many paddy farmlands. However, with the mechanisation in paddy plantation in the country, and timely availability of manure and paddy seeds, among other reasons, we expect paddy production to increase this year,” said Shankar Sapkota, deputy-spokesperson for MoAD.

As per Sapkota, farmers across the country have already started harvesting paddy and the preliminary statistics maintained by MoAD show that production of the country’s major cereal crop is likely to rise.

MoAD has set record-high paddy production target of 5.4 million tonnes in the current fiscal year. However, there were fears that the projected production target of paddy would not be met after the adverse monsoon affected plantation of the crop.

In 2016-17, paddy production in the country reached an all-time high of 5.23 million metric tonnes.

“We had expected a drop in production of paddy due to the unfavourable monsoon. However, the preliminary paddy production report shows that the adverse monsoon did not affect its production,” added Sapkota.

According to him, increase in productivity of paddy to 3.5 metric tonnes per hectare from 3.37 metric tonnes per hectare will lead to increase in production of paddy by more than 200,000 metric tonnes this year compared to last fiscal. Moreover, Sapkota informed that paddy production this fiscal year might even exceed projected production target of 5.4 million tonnes if paddy harvesting is not affected by hailstorms.

MoAD officials said that the government is prioritising to increase the productivity of crops instead of increasing the area of land used for cultivation.

Paddy productivity in Nepal is comparatively low. While China has been producing almost eight metric tonnes of paddy per hectare, Thailand and India have paddy productivity of seven metric tonnes per hectare and four metric tonnes per hectare, respectively.

Increase in production of paddy is crucial to reduce import of rice. As per the statistics of the government, Nepal has been importing rice worth almost Rs 25 billion every year.