March 22, 2020 10:34 am
Nepal exports agricultural commodities worth USD 200 million each year, and imports produce worth about five times as much. While nearly 70 percent of Nepal’s total imports of agricultural commodities—cereals, vegetables, and fruits—come from India, this has not always been the case. Until the 1980s, Nepal was a net exporter of agricultural commodities. Even today, if agricultural land in the Tarai plains—known popularly as the granary of Nepal—is optimally utilized, the country’s agricultural production can increase manifold to offset the current trade deficit. About 600,000 hectares (ha) of irrigable land in the Tarai are unirrigated and completely dependent on rainfall. If Nepal uses its groundwater resources to irrigate these lands, it will help bolster food security and lead to socio-economic benefits for the country.