The 18th National Paddy Day and Paddy Cultivation Festival is being observed only symbolically tomorrow in view of the risk of Covid-19.

The occasion this year will be marked without the usual traditional cultural programmes as singing, throwing mud at each other and merriment.

The Department of Agriculture has directed all stakeholders and its units in the districts to mark the festival limiting it to government-managed paddy farms as far as possible.

The 18th National Paddy Day and Paddy Cultivation Festival this year is being celebrated with the slogan - 'Growth in Paddy Production: Food Security, Self-reliance and Prosperity'.

The department has prepared health safety protocol for observing the festival this time owing to the COV- ID-19 risk, said Officiating Director General of the Department Januka Pandit at a news conference here yesterday.

So, the festival will be celebrated with the participation of only a few people.

She said the festival would be marked at the central level at the National Agricultural Research Council's farm in Khumaltar, Lalitpur, tomorrow in the presence of Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development Basanta Kumar Nembang.

The festival will be celebrated fully abiding by health safety protocols to highlight the significance of National Paddy Day to publicise it and to continue the tradition, the department stated.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has concluded that agricultural activities have to continue with health safety measures to reduce the possibility of food and nutrition insecurity in future. In this connection, the ministry has been facilitating regular operation of all agricultural activities even during the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Ministry Spokesperson Shreeram Ghimire said the ministry had brought programmes for expanding the area of paddy cultivation, for increasing production and for promoting paddy crop.

According to him, the ministry is working to attain self-sufficiency in rice production by conserving land for rice cultivation, promoting clean and healthy seeds, expanding the irrigation programme and developing hybrid and disease resistant varieties.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 29 2021, of The Himalayan Times.