Weak rainfall could hamper paddy yield

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Weak rainfall could hamper paddy yield

Jun 10, 2015-

Just as the country is reeling under severe heatwave, meteorologists have forecast a second consecutive year of weak rainfall. The deficient rains could hit farmers, particularly those growing paddy in the Tarai districts, and could adversely affect the country’s economy already shattered by the April 25 earthquake and its powerful aftershocks.

The four-month long monsoon season normally starts from June 10. However, no rainfall activities have been recorded throughout the week.

The continued dry conditions and lack of soil moisture due to absence of any rainfall activities during the pre-monsoon days has already hit the farmers as they have not been able to sow paddy seeds, something that should have been done a week ago.

“Farmers have not been able to sow paddy seeds that should have been planted a week ago,” said Nawal Kishor Yadav, coordinator of Dhanusha-based National Rice Research Centre under the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC).

Paddy sowing period in most of the Tarai districts starts in early June and stretches until the end of the same month. After sowing period ends, paddy transplantation starts from June 30 in many Tarai districts.

“However delay in sowing paddy seeds could affect the paddy transplantation. The deficient rains in districts with poor irrigation facilities will further aggravate the farmers’ woes,” Yadav said. “There is still time for sowing seeds if the soil gets some moisture.” NARC has been promoting the dry direct seeded rice practice in some Tarai districts.

The direct seeded rice requires 35 to 40 percent less water than the normal paddy sowing and plantation process, according to NARC.

“Similarly, NARC has released around 74 varieties of improved paddy seeds, of which 62 are used widely by the farmers,” Yadav said. Some of these seeds are tolerant to extreme climatic changes and stresses such as drought, flooding and submergence.

The government has already decided to distribute 423 tons of improved varieties of paddy seeds for the farmers in 14 earthquake-affected districts and also provide 25 percent subsidy while purchasing seeds for farmers in other districts.

Shiva Nepal, a senior meteorologist at the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), said that as per the prediction of the South Asian monsoon prepared by a group of weather experts across the world, except for few places in the Eastern hilly districts and Western Nepal, the monsoon is expected to be ‘below average’ across the country.

“There are chances of short to long dry spells along with extreme rainfall events during this monsoon, both likely to cause impact on overall agriculture sector,” said Nepal. The information about the possible dry spells and extreme rainfall events has been shared with the policy makers, agronomists along with the farmers so that appropriate measures could be taken to help the farmers to deal with dry conditions, he added.

Last year, the unexpected wet spell caused by heavy rains and thunderstorms during the rice harvesting period in October affected the farmers a lot. The projected growth with average monsoon rains last year went down due to the ‘unexpected’ weather condition, Yadav added.

Brief showers bring respite from heat

Cloudy weather with brief thundershowers in some parts of the Central and Eastern regions on Wednesday brought some respite from the continued rise in temperatures and heat wave conditions in Tarai districts.

According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD), the sudden change in weather condition is likely to persist until Thursday evening but heavy rains are very unlikely in the same period.

Normal life in many western Tarai districts and some parts of Central and Eastern regions has been affected owing to the rising temperatures and heat wave conditions in the past two weeks. The heat wave also claimed three lives in Tarai districts where the temperature rose between 42 and 44 degree Celsius in the recent days.

“Strong thunder clouds developed locally in the western region is further intensifying and moving towards east. This local disturbance is further supported by the moisture inflow from the cyclonic movement developed along the Arabian Sea, “said Shanta Kandel, a meteorologist at the MFD. She said the system will result in thunder shower activities in Kathmandu as well as some eastern districts. She, however, added that the sudden rainfall activity on Wednesday is not connected to monsoon rains and the Far-West Nepal would witness heat conditions for next couple of days.

Usually the rain-bearing monsoon enters the country on June 10 from the eastern region and takes almost a week to spread throughout the country. Weatherpersons have predicted that the monsoon is likely to be delayed by a couple of days this year. On Wednesday, Dharan, among the 19 meteorological stations of the MFD, recorded the highest rainfall measuring 19.8 millimetres, followed by Pokhara at 7.3 millimetres and Kathmandu at 6 millimetres.

Published: 11-06-2015 08:37

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment