Weak monsoon dampens prospects for Nepal’s agriculture sectorMet office says 1,249.3 mm rain, 84.9 percent of season’s average, has fallen since June.
As predicted by meteorologists, Nepal has witnessed below-average rainfall in the ongoing monsoon, which is set to end in around a week.
According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, since June, the country has witnessed 1,249.3 mm of rainfall, which is 84.9 percent of the season’s average.
Nepal witnesses an average of 1,472 mm rainfall in the four months of the monsoon—June, July, August and September, according to Sudarshan Humagain, a meteorologist at the department.
“But this year, until Friday morning, the country has seen only 1,249.3 mm of rain, which is 84.9 percent of the season’s average rainfall and 88.3 percent of the average until September 22,” Humagain said.
Monsoon is likely to withdraw after a week as the monsoon rain withdrawal date in Nepal is around October 2.
Officials said that most districts of the Tarai witnessed below-average rainfall this monsoon. Dhanusha and some other districts of the Madhesh Province reported around 55 percent of the season’s average, Dhangadhi of Kailali and Banke, Bhairahawa of Rupandehi and Simara of Bara district received below 80 percent, Dhankuta below 70 percent and Dang around 65 percent rainfall as of Friday.
A lack of sufficient rainfall in the districts has not only impacted the cultivation of all arable lands but also prevented farmers from planting crops on time. And this means agricultural yield will take a hit.
Like most farmers in Nepal, those in the said districts depend heavily on rainfall to cultivate their crops due to a lack of irrigation infrastructure. And rice cultivation needs abundant water. A below-average rainfall in these areas this year will badly hit food production, experts say.
“With just a week remaining for the monsoon to go, we don’t know how much more rain will fall,” said Humagain.
Officials at the Department of Agriculture said that all indicators regarding the production of agricultural goods are negative except the availability of chemical fertilisers.
“Below-average rainfall, late monsoon, dry spell in mid-monsoon, and late crop plantation have impacted agriculture production,” said Sunil Kumar Singh, information officer at the department. “Agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development forecast their estimation in the coming days. The availability of chemical fertilisers did not become an issue this year, but all other indicators are negative.”
The agriculture census carried out in 2021 by the National Statistics Office shows around 300,000 hectares of agricultural land was lost in a decade, officials said.
“We have been collecting data from the provincial agencies concerned on the impact of late monsoon and below-average rainfall, among other things, on crop production,” said Sabnam Shivakoti Aryal, spokesperson for the Agriculture Ministry. “We will meet with experts and forecast the estimated loss.”
Nepal has been on the receiving end of the worst effects of the climate crisis and witnessed multiple extreme weather events over the past decade and a half.
Evidence suggests that the maximum temperature in Nepal is rising faster, at 0.056 degrees Celsius a year, compared to the global average of 0.03 degrees.
Experts say extreme weather events—excessive rainfall in a short time, continuous rain for several days post-monsoon, dry spells and droughts, below-average precipitation and above-normal temperatures in winter— have become more frequent in Nepal in recent years.
Scores of studies and scientific analyses over the decade, and more recently, the IPCC report have warned that Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and it takes more than a business-as-usual approach to tackle the adverse impacts of the climate crisis.
Last year, too, districts of western Tarai, including Banke, witnessed drought during the entire monsoon season, and freak rains post-monsoon inundated farmlands that forced hundreds of people to cross the border in search of livelihood opportunities.