Farmers busy planting paddy as rain gods smileFarmers have been making rapid progress in transplanting paddy thanks to a good monsoon.
Farmers have been making rapid progress in transplanting paddy thanks to a good monsoon.
Transplantation has been completed on 18.4 percent of the country’s 1.42 million hectares of rice fields as of Tuesday, compared to 12.7 percent during the same period last year, according to a preliminary report of the Ministry of Agricultural Development.
Nepal is heavily dependent on the monsoon. And this year the rain gods have been quite merciful. As of Tuesday, transplantation has been completed on 14 percent of the 984,339 hectares of rice fields in the Tarai region. Likewise, transplantation in the mountains and hills has been completed on 27.5 percent of the 58,438 hectares and 28.3 percent of the 382,569 hectares of rice fields respectively.
The Tarai, which is the largest paddy producing region in the country, accounts for 71 percent of the total rice acreage. The hills account for 25 percent and the mountain region 4 percent.
In terms of geographical distribution, the Far Western and Mid-Western regions saw the highest transplantation rate. According to the ministry, transplantation in the Far Western Region has been completed on 43.5 percent of the 170,117 hectares of paddy fields here.
Transplantation in the Mid-Western and Eastern regions has been recorded at 18.8 percent of the 293,974 hectares and 10.6 percent of the 382,867 hectares of paddy fields.
Similarly, transplantation in the Western and Central regions has been completed on 13.6 percent of the 308,090 hectares and 13.8 percent of the 391,624 hectares.
“The overall rise in the transplantation rate can be attributed to faster progress in the hill and mountain regions,” said Shankar Sapkota, assistant spokesperson for the ministry. “Transplantation in the Tarai region, the country’s food basket, is yet to pick up pace.”
The country is likely to see paddy transplantation of above 97 percent this year if the current rainfall trend continues, Sapkota said.
Last year, 9 percent of the country’s total rice fields were left unplanted due to a poor monsoon. June rains are important for transplantation, but they make up a smaller portion of the season’s total rainfall.
Paddy growth and yields will be mainly influenced by how the monsoon progresses in the coming months,” said Yubak Dhoj GC, director general of the Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the paddy acreage has fallen for two consecutive years. The ministry’s statistics show that paddy was grown on 1.52 million hectares out of the 3.1 million hectares of arable land in the country in 2013-14.
“Land plotting driven by growing urbanization is the major reason behind the shrinking paddy fields,” said GC. Besides, manpower shortages have been another growing problem in the farming sector which has forced farmers to let arable land lie fallow.
“Obviously, the shrinking farm labour force has been a growing concern, on the other hand, farmers have been encouraged to use machines as an alternative,” said Sapkota. “The government and cooperatives have been promoting farm mechanization as an alternative to manual farming systems.”
Agriculture, particularly paddy cultivation, has been a matter of human sweat and draught animal labour. Despite the hard labour, incomes are very low.
According to a study, the cost of preparing land and sowing using machines is one-third less than traditional practices. For example, land preparation and sowing costs Rs988 per hectare using machines compared to Rs2,891 manually. Besides, productivity increases 10-20 percent through the use of machines.
Outstanding farmers awarded
KATHMANDU: Five farmers, one each from the five development regions, received the President’s Outstanding Farmers Award on Wednesday for their contribution to the agriculture sector. Imman Bahadur Gurung of Laha Chowk in Kaski was conferred with the best farmer award and received a purse of Rs200,000. The 49-year-old farmer was honoured for his success in commercial milk production. His annual sales totalled Rs16.2 million. Gurung owns 300 buffalos and employs 37 people. He started commercial milk production with three buffalos seven years ago. The other four farmers who were honoured are Rangadan Tamang from Ramechhap, Devi Kumari Oli from Jhapa, Sarma Chaudhari from Bardia and Binod Kumar Shah from Kailali. They received cash awards of Rs100,000 each.