Paddy plantation low in 6 Tarai districts

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Paddy plantation low in 6 Tarai districts

Jul 30, 2015-

Two districts in the eastern Tarai and four in the Centre have been hit the hardest by late and insufficient rainfall with paddy transplantation being completed on only 35 percent of the fields less than two weeks from the end of the planting season.

Water shortage is a persistent problem in these districts. Droughts are expected to strike there, triggering fears of a famine. Agro experts said that drought and soaring temperatures have left farmlands in the districts with extensive cracks and even the transplanted paddy seedlings have turned yellow.

Normally, the Tarai districts have a spill-over period until mid-August. In some cases, paddy can be sowed till early September.

Initial reports suggest that the paddy transplantation rate in the districts—Saptari and Siraha in the East, and Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi and Rautahat in the Centre—is unlikely to cross 75 percent this year. Paddy is cultivated on 220,455 hectares of this stretch.

However, farmers in the far-western plains have almost completed paddy transplantation due to abundant rainfall. The Ministry of Agricultural Development said that the plantation rate in the far-western Tarai has reached 99 percent. Paddy is grown on 116,000 hectares in the region.

Agro experts said that a shortage of manpower was another key reason behind the poor paddy cultivation in the six districts, which pulled down the national transplantation rate.

As of July 27, the national average paddy transplantation rate stood at 67.6 percent of the total 1.42 million hectares of paddy fields, down from 71 percent in the same period last year. “Usually, the transplantation rate should be 75 percent of the total land as of July-end,” said Bhola Man Singh Basnet, a senior agronomist. Due to a late monsoon and below-average rainfall, paddy output fell 5 percent last year, affecting the country’s economic growth.

“Insufficient rains have become recurrent problems in these Tarai districts for a long time.

In addition, there has been a massive outflow of youths to foreign lands that has adversely affected agricultural activities,” Basnet said.

Still, the Tarai districts have more than two weeks to complete their transplantation, and it will not affect the output significantly if there is enough rain during the period. Even if farmers are not able to transplant paddy, they have other alternatives.

Basnet said that more than five paddy varieties had been developed that are tolerant to extreme climatic stress like drought and flood. According to him, the government has distributed around 100 tonnes of these seeds this year, and that will help farmers to some extent.

Paddy varieties like Sukhha Dhan 4 and Sukhha Dhan 5 can withstand drought while Sukhha Dhan 6 can tolerate drought and even re-grow after being submerged. They have been recommended for the Tarai, inner Tarai and river basin areas. “However, based on the current pace, the average national transplantation rate is unlikely to cross 90 percent this year.”

Statistics at the Agriculture Ministry show that Siraha is the worst-hit district with Dhanusha, Mahottari, Saptari, Sarlahi and Rautahat in tow. As per its figures, paddy transplantation has been completed on a meagre 18 percent of the 35,000 hectares in Siraha. Last year, the rate was 40 percent.

Dhanusha with 44,200 hectares of paddy fields recorded a plantation rate of 20 percent while the progress in Mahottari is 22 percent of the 29,400 hectares. The transplantation rate was 40 percent and 30 percent in Dhanusha and Mahottari respectively during the same period last year.

Transplantation in Saptari has so far reached 29 percent of the 35,000 hectares. Similarly, Sarlahi and Rautahat recorded 35 percent paddy plantation on their 45,500 hectares and 30,355 hectares of paddies respectively. The figures were 37 percent and 60 percent respectively in the same period last year.

Overall, the central Tarai districts had the lowest transplantation rate of 42.5 percent of the 284,901 hectares while the eastern Tarai recorded a rate of 58.1 percent.

Agro experts said the economic outlook for the next year is bleaker amid weak monsoon forecasts. Agriculture, the major contributor to Nepal’s economy, is mainly rain-fed. In 2011-12, paddy production rose an impressive 13.7 percent, and as a result, the farm sector’s growth rate swelled to 4.63 percent.

However, in 2012-13, paddy output dropped 11.3 percent and the economic growth rate slumped to a six-year low of 3.5 percent. Nepal’s economy inched up just 3 percent in the last fiscal year due to the April 25 earthquake and a drop in paddy production.

bread basket

LOWEST RATE IN TARAI

District    Area     2014     2015

            (hectare)    (%)    (%)

Siraha    36,000    43    18

Dhanusha     44,200    40    20

Mahottari    29,400    30    22

Saptari     35,000    40    29

Sarlahi    45,500    37    35

Rautahat    30,355    60    35

HIGHEST RATE

Kailali    70,400    91    99

Kanchanpur    45,600    92    99

Nawalparasi    44,800    99    98

Bardiya    48,500    91    92

Rupandehi    69,600    84    75

Morang    82,550    68    73

REGION-WISE

Eastern    382,867    58.1    59

Central    391,624    50.6    65

Western    308,090    77.6    84

Mid West    167,498    80.7    77

Far West    170,117    97.2    93

Total    1,420,196    71    67.6

(Source: Agriculture Ministry)

Published: 31-07-2015 07:47

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