Huge winter crop losses likely in western regionFarmers in the western region are likely to suffer huge winter crop losses due to a drought that has lasted since January, and further pain is expected if the dry spell continues.
Farmers in the western region are likely to suffer huge winter crop losses due to a drought that has lasted since January, and further pain is expected if the dry spell continues. The Western Region Agriculture Directorate (WRAD) in Kaski has projected that farmers are likely to suffer crop losses amounting to Rs2.81 billion this year.
Lack of rain has severely affected winter crops such as wheat, maize, vegetables, fruits and spices. Manang, Mustang, Gorkha and Kaski out of the 16 districts in the Western Region have been declared food-deficit districts.
A food-deficit status normally means that the output is insufficient to feed the population. Water sources in most of the districts have dried up. Arghakhanchi has been declared the worst-drought affected district.
Beni Bahadur Basnet, director of the WRAD, said that Manang and Mustang districts were unable to feed 90 percent of its population. The food deficit in Gorkha and Kaski has been put at 45 percent and 25 percent respectively.
Basnet said that the drought had severely affected the Tarai which is the food basket of the country. “If the drought prolongs, it will affect the crops more.” However, there are some signs of hope for the struggling farmers.
According to a regional forum of the World Meteorological Organization, a weakening of the El Nino phenomenon has raised hopes of good rains this monsoon in Nepal. Districts in the mid- and far western Tarai along with a few hill districts in the west are likely to get above normal rainfall, while the remaining parts, except a few Tarai and hilly districts in the far east, are set to receive normal rains between June and September this year.
The directorate said that maize crop losses were expected to reach Rs850 million in the Western Region. The maize acreage in the region totals 2,161 hectares.
Likewise, paddy losses are expected to amount to Rs790 million. Paddy is grown on 20,191 hectares in the Western Region. Similarly, fruit and vegetable losses have been projected to reach Rs70 million and Rs230 million respectively. Wheat and potato losses are expected to reach Rs760 million and Rs60 million respectively in the Western Region. The government has projected that winter crop production—wheat and fruits—is likely to drop sharply.