Print Edition - 2017-11-26 | MONEY
Earthquakes aid farm mechanisation process
- silver lining
Nov 26, 2017-
It may sound a bit rum, but the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015 have played a crucial role in expediting the farm mechanisation process in northern parts of Makwanpur district.
The northern parts of Makwanpur used to rely on oxes to plough fields. But the quakes of 2015 killed many of those animals and destroyed their sheds as well. As a result, many farmers do not have any option but to rely on hand tractors to till the fields.
“Not many farmers use oxes these days because there are not many left,” said Ram Bahadur Karki, a farmer from Palung in Thaha municipality. “Even those who have oxes find it difficult to raise them and even more difficult to find labourers to take care of them.”
As the practice of using oxes to plough fields is becoming obsolete here, more and more hand tractors are being seen in the fields ahead of crop plantation seasons. With the hike in demand for hand tractors, the Agricultural Development Office Makwanpur (ADOM) has distributed over 200 of these equipments at subsidised rates to farmers of northern parts of the district.
Ramesh Singh Thakuri of Sisneri rural municipality is one such farmer who has bought a hand tractor at subsidised rate. He sold four oxes to a farmer of Chaimale in Kathmandu to buy the hand tractor. He uses the tractor to till 18 ropanies of his land and generates extra income by ploughing fields of others in his neighbourhood. He charges Rs600 to plough fields for an hour.
“I can plough around 5 ropanies of land in an hour. Had I used oxen it would have taken a lot more time to plough the same area,” said Thakuri.
Farm mechanisation, according to ADOM Chief Nirmal Gadal, is key for commercialisation of the agricultural sector. “Only mechanisation and commercialisation of the agricultural sector can raise productivity and income of farmers,” Gadal said.
Ironically, devastating floods of 14 years ago had displaced traditional water mills in northern parts of Makwanpur and replaced them with electric mills. Now, the quakes have displaced oxes and replaced them with hand tractors, said Sano Bhai Karki, principal of a secondary school in Thaha municipality.
Use of modern farm equipment has raised agricultural yields and reduced production costs in many places if the country. In Barju and Gadi villages of Sunsari, for instance, agricultural yields went up by around 25 percent, while crop production cost dropped by around 30 percent after farmers started using zero-tillage machines to transplant crops and other equipment to spray fertiliser.
In Kailali, for example, each farmer used to spend two weeks to plough every bigha of the field and transplant crops manually. These farmers can now plough six bighas of land in a week because of use of modern farm equipment.
The government has launched the Rs130-billion PM Agricultural Modernisation Project to boost agricultural productivity through adoption of modern farm equipment and techniques. The main objective of the project is to make the country self-reliant in food production.
Under the project, the government has created 2,100 pocket areas of 10 hectares each, 150 blocks of 100 hectares each, 30 zones of 500 hectares each and seven super zones of 1,000 hectares each in various parts of the country to promote production of various crops and bolster agricultural productivity.
Published: 26-11-2017 08:36