Monsoon brings cheer after two years of drought

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 23, 2016-

The monsoon has spread across the entire country speeding up paddy planting and erasing fears over farm and economic growth after two straight years of drought. 

The June-September rains are crucial for the country’s agricultural sector, particularly the paddy crop, as more than half of the arable land is fed by rain. In normal situations, the paddy acreage amounts to 1.5 million hectares.

Weathermen have forecast a normal monsoon this year. It entered Nepal on June 15 and covered the entire country by June 20. 

The mid- and far western Tarai districts along with a few western hill districts are expected to receive above normal rainfall, said Barun Paudel, a senior meteorologist at the Meteorological Forecasting Division. 

The rest of the country, except a few Tarai and hill districts in the east, are set to receive normal rains between June and September this year, he said.

According to a regional forum of the World Meteorological Organization, weakening of the El Nino phenomenon has raised hopes of good rains this monsoon in Nepal. Last year, the country received 76 percent of normal rainfall while in the previous year it received 94 percent.

“Paddy transplanting in the hills districts has already started, and in the Tarai districts, it is expected to go into a full swing by next week,” said Shankar Sapkota, a senior agro economist at the Ministry of Agricultural Development.

“As this year’s monsoon has been predicted to be normal, it will remove fears over farm and economic growth.” The agricultural sector makes up about 33 percent of the Rs2 trillion economy. 

The country is bracing for the lowest economic growth in 14 years, largely due to poor agriculture output, four-month border blockade and delayed reconstruction, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). The agriculture sector is estimated to grow at the rate of 1.14 percent this fiscal year. 

Due to insufficient rains last year, the production of paddy dropped more than 10 percent. The farm sector grew 1.9 percent in 2014-15 following a delayed and poor monsoon.  

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 3 percent in the last fiscal year due to the April 25 earthquake and a drop in the paddy harvest.

Besides fluctuating monsoons, fertilizer shortages spread anxiety in the farming community annually. However, the government has said that it has sufficient fertilizers for summer crops this year. 

“We have adequate stocks of chemical fertilizers for this year as no shipments were made during the four-month-long Tarai unrest and border blockade,” said Sapkota. Nearly, 200,000 tonnes of fertilizers have been dispatched to farmers as of mid-June, the ministry said.

“Besides the existing reserves, we have more fertilizer on order. So, farmers need not worry this year.” He added that abundant rains and fertilizers this year are expected to relieve farm distress and revive growth.

Published: 23-06-2016 07:49

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