KATHMANDU, Aug 14: Nepal has its paddy transplantation completed in 98% of the land allotted for rice production this monsoon, setting the largest cultivation land area in the past five years, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
Despite having an encouraging cultivation of the staple food, the short supply of the necessary fertilizers in the meantime has raised a serious question - will the country see a notable rise in actual production? Nepal produced 5.55 million tons of rice in 2018/19.
According to the ministry, paddy farming has been completed in 1.34 million hectares out of the 1.37 million hectares used for rice production. Compared to the statistics of 2019/20, the transplanted area this year during the rainy season has exceeded the land area by 51,638 hectares. Last year, the total transplantation stood at 94.43% of the land area by the end of the rainy season.
The significant increase in use of the rice fields has been attributed to the timely and adequate rainfall the country receives this time around and the easy availability of manpower in the agriculture fields due to the lockdown and coronavirus. Nepal has received monsoon this year from June 12, which still remains active.
Farmers, who do not have irrigation facilities, started paddy transplantation only after the monsoon season began in the second week of July. Farmers normally carry out paddy transplantation till mid-August.
According to the ministry, paddy farming has been completed in the entire rice fields’ area of Sudur Paschim Province. Farmers cultivate rice in 164,639 hectares of land in this province.
Based on paddy transplantation, the ministry has projected that the rice production will increase by around 5 percent this year. The ministry’s expectation however could be dented as the farmers this year too faced a shortage of fertilizers amid mean monsoon.
The agriculture sector contributes around 27 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), while the contribution of paddy alone stands at around seven percent.