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Weather Improves Paddy Production

01 December 2011

NEPAL - The Agriculture Ministry Thursday claimed that there has been record production of paddy, the key crop of Nepal, this year, thanks to the favourable weather condition.

According to the ministry, paddy production reached 5,072,000 tons this year, which is over 600,000 tons more than in the previous year. The ministry has put the growth at 14 per cent, and if all the paddy produced is divided equally among all the Nepalese people, the share amounts to 190.5 kilos, reported the Rising Nepal.

It is said that 90 kilos of paddy are enough for a person for a year. Hence, the production is much more than the domestic need. The ministry officials said that timely availability of seeds and chemical fertilisers and expansion of cultivated land led to the growth. Along with paddy, the production of maize and millet is also higher this year.

Anyway, the significant growth in the key crop must have pleased the policymakers and the Finance Ministry authorities who had projected a high growth rate.

The record food production comes as good news for the Nepalese people, especially those living in Karnali zone and other food deficit districts. However, the authorities should be serious about storing adequate grains for the people of the food-deficit regions.

Indeed, Nepal was self-reliant in food production, including rice, until the mid-1980s. Then Nepal used to export rice to Bangladesh. Later such exports were banned. Many years after that, the Agriculture Ministry is planning to lift the ban.

However, this scribe is sceptical. How could the ministry make the claim that paddy production has gone up when the farmers are yet to harvest it in many parts of the country? When my family in Ilam cannot tell the amount of paddy produced in our farms as it is yet to be harvested, the ministry officials have already made public the production!

It is interesting how the authorities could make such projections when no representative of the district agriculture office has reached the villages in recent years. How was the data collected by the ministry?

Moreover, the ministry claimed there was growth in millet production when the harvest season of the crop is almost a month away.

Similarly, the claim that the area under paddy cultivation is bigger this year also seems baseless. For example, in the VDCs in Ilam, people have been growing cash crops like tea, ginger and fodder trees in their paddy fields. In the terai, many paddy fields have been converted into housing complexes. Even in Jhapa, where the largest amount of paddy was produced this year, we can see barren paddy fields in many places. Yes, because of the favourable monsoon, no paddy field was left barren this year. But the area of paddy growing land has not increased as claimed by the ministry.

Although the production has gone up, the farmers are not in a position to benefit due to the sharp fall in the price. It is not understandable why the farmers are compelled to sell paddy at a very cheap price when the price of rice in Kathmandu has not gone down yet. Perhaps, the middlemen are taking advantage of the high production.

TheCropSite News Desk

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