Planned paddy mission targets self-sufficiencyThe government will be launching the first paddy mission from the next fiscal year aimed at boosting output and productivity to feed the growing population.
The three-year mission has set a target of becoming self-reliant in rice and being in a position to export paddy by the end of the scheme. The mission will
cover 670,000 hectares in 13 Tarai districts.
The programme has been divided into five cluster areas—Jhapa, Sunsari and Morang; Bara, Sarlahi and Parsa; Rupandehi and Kapilvastu; Dang, Banke and Bardia and Kailali Kanchanpur.
“The total funding required to implement the three-year project is yet to be assessed, but the government has allocated Rs100 million for the first year of the mission,” said Shankar Sapkota, assistant spokesperson of the Ministry of Agricultural Development.
As per the target, the government plans to increase the average paddy productivity to 3.43 tonnes per hectare in the first year 2015-16 from the current 3.17 tonnes, and increase yield to 3.57 tonnes in the second year 2016-17.
In the third phase, paddy productivity will increase to 3.66 tonnes per hectare.
In terms of paddy productivity in the South Asian region, Nepal stands ahead of Afghanistan (2.49 tonnes per hectare) and Pakistan (2.43 tonnes per hectare), but trails behind Bangladesh (4.37 tonnes per hectare), Sri Lanka (3.88 tonnes per hectare), Bhutan (3.69 tonnes per hectare) and India (3.62 tonnes per hectare), according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Likewise, the ministry said that paddy output has been projected to increase to 4.94 million tonnes in the first year from the existing 4.78 million tonnes under the mission. In the second and third years, output has been
targeted to increase to 5.22 million tonnes and 5.40 million tonnes respectively.
In terms of trade, the ministry has targeted reducing rice imports to 277,000 tonnes from the current 530,000 tonnes in the first year of the programme. Imports will be reduced to 96,000 tonnes in the second year and the government has aimed to become self-reliant in rice by the third year or able to export 10,000 tonnes of rice.
The mission has set a target to reduce the country’s rice import bills to Rs6 billion and Rs2 billion respectively in the first and second years of the mission. Currently, Nepal imports rice worth Rs14 billion annually.
“As we have not set an ambitious target, we believe that it is achievable,” said Sapkota. He added that the government would also launch mission “chaite dhan”, referring to paddy planted from mid-March to mid-April, in areas where there are irrigation facilities.
The ministry plans to supply improved varieties of paddy seeds and subsidies on farm machinery, irrigation and other tools in the targeted districts under a focused package. In addition, the government will provide training to farmers. “We are currently preparing a working guideline of the subsidy scheme,” said Sapkota.
The Agricultural Ministry has proposed providing 500 shallow tube wells in areas lacking irrigation facilities and distributing 13,000 tonnes of improved varieties of paddy seeds. Climatic fluctuations have a profound influence on farming in Nepal.
Paddy production recorded a sharp 11.3 percent drop to 4.50 million tonnes in 2012-13 when the country suffered a drought with rainfall reaching 83.3 percent during the four key months.
In 2013-14, rainfall had been good during the planting season, and paddy output jumped 12 percent to 5.04 million tonnes.
Paddy production is expected to drop 5.1 percent to 4.78 million tonnes this fiscal year again due to a late monsoon and untimely rainfall. Based on the market value of paddy of Rs20 per kg, the country’s output amounted to Rs100 billion this year, down Rs5 billion from last year. Due to low investment, the farming sector, which contributes one-third to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), has been going through hard times. Nepal’s economic growth rate is always determined by agriculture, particularly the growth in