Paddy output likely to fall in 5 Tarai districtsNewly-appointed Minister for Agricultural Development Ram Krishna Yadav on Friday directed his officials to find immediate, mid-term and long-term solutions to address the problem of low paddy transplantation in five central and eastern Tarai districts.
Newly-appointed Minister for Agricultural Development Ram Krishna Yadav on Friday directed his officials to find immediate, mid-term and long-term solutions to address the problem of low paddy transplantation in five central and eastern Tarai districts.
Two districts in the eastern Tarai-Saptari and Siraha—and three districts in the central region-Dhanusha, Mahottari and Sarlahi-have always faced problems during rice plantation season due to insufficient rainfall.
The only exception was last year. But the problem has recurred this year again, with five districts citing insufficient rainfall as one of the major reasons for delay in paddy transplantation.
It is believed rice plantation will be affected in these districts this year as well, as only two weeks are left for the planting season to end.
While the national paddy transplantation rate reached 68 percent as of Monday, the average transplantation rate in these five districts stands at 30 percent.
Usually, the transplantation rate should reach 75 percent by the end of July. In Siraha and Dhanusha, paddy transplantation has been completed on 25 percent of the land-the lowest among all the districts. Paddy is planted on 51,575 hectares in Siraha and 65,540 hectares in Dhanusha.
Likewise, transplantation rate in Mahottari has reached 30 percent. Paddy is transplanted on 34,500 hectares in Mahottari.
In Sarlahi and Saptari, transplantation rate has reached 40 percent, according to the ministry’s statistics. Paddy is planted on 49,650 hectares in Sarlahi and on 54,000 hectares in Saptari. Droughts are expected to hit these districts, with production reaching rock bottom.
Agro experts said that drought and soaring temperatures have led to formation of cracks on farmlands and turned transplanted paddy seedlings yellow.
“The minister has expressed concern over late transplantation in these Tarai districts and has formed committees to find immediate, mid-term and long-term solutions to these problems,” said Shankar Sapkota, deputy spokesperson of the ministry.
Insufficient rainfalls have become recurrent problems in these Tarai districts for a long time. This problem has been compounded by massive outflow of youths to foreign lands, creating shortage of labourers to carry out agricultural activities, according to experts.
Although the minister has expressed concern over late transplantation in Parsa, Bara, Rautahat and Banke as well, transplantation rate in these districts has so far remained above national average.
Sapkota said that the Department of Agriculture has been directed to hold an extensive meeting at the local level, comprising farmers and representatives of the District Agriculture Office and local administration, and produce a working procedure to address the grievances immediately. The department has been given three days to submit the report.
Likewise, the ministry has formed a four-member team to prepare a field report on drought-affected areas. The team has been given 7 days to prepare the report.
To address the problem in the long run, the ministry has formed a seven-member team of experts to prepare a plan to eliminate the occurrence of the problem in the future. The team will be led by Agriculture Ministry Joint Secretary Yogendra Kumar Karki.
This is not the first time the government has tried to address the perennial problem of water shortage in some of the district in central and eastern Tarai.
In April 2016, the government had planned to launch a scheme, ‘Prosperous Tarai-Madhes Irrigation Special Programme’, to provide water to parched farmlands in eight drought-prone districts.
The five-year Rs4.44-billion programme designed for Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts, however, was never rolled out.
The Ministry of Irrigation had even tabled the ambitious programme for discussion at the parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. At that time, the irrigation ministry had also informed that use of solar-powered shallow tube wells would be a viable solution to increase agricultural production in those areas until big irrigation projects were developed.
The ministry, at that time, had also proposed to develop the Sunkoshi Marine Diversion Multipurpose Project to provide irrigation facility to the central Tarai districts.