Floods, landslides to hit agri output, raise food pricesFood prices are likely to shoot up in the coming days building inflationary pressure, as incessant rain, floods and landslides of the past few days have damaged or destroyed cereal crops, vegetables and legumes planted on thousands of hectares of land in the southern Tarai belt, which is considered as the country’s food basket.
Food prices are likely to shoot up in the coming days building inflationary pressure, as incessant rain, floods and landslides of the past few days have damaged or destroyed cereal crops, vegetables and legumes planted on thousands of hectares of land in the southern Tarai belt, which is considered as the country’s food basket.
Heavy downpour since Friday, which has inundated farmlands and triggered floods and landslides, has posed a big threat to crops, such as paddy, maize, legumes, and vegetables, and fishes being grown in districts such as Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Chitwan, Rasuwa, Ramechhap, Bara, Parsa, Rasuwa, Myagdi, Rupandehi, Bajhang and Baitadi, preliminary data collected by the Ministry of Agricultural Development show.
In the central region of Bara, for instance, 55,800 hectares of paddy fields have been inundated, while in Dhasusha district 21,305 hectares of paddy fields are submerged in flood water.
The situation is the same in Parsa district where 20,000 hectares of paddy fields are inundated, while in Rupandehi 1,430 hectares of paddy fields are submerged
If the water that has deluged the rice fields is not released in two to three days, plants could die, leading to significant drop in paddy output this year, according to Shankar Sapkota, senior agricultural economist at the MoAD.
“Also, the amount of sand that flood water has deposited in the rice fields needs to be seen, as it could damage the crop and reduce production,” Sapkota said, adding, “The extent of damage, however, is not yet known as we are still gathering data from different places.”
A drop in paddy production may hit the government’s plan of achieving economic growth target of 7.2 percent in the current fiscal year, because paddy accounts for over 20 percent of the total agricultural output.
Agricultural output, on the other hand, makes a contribution of about 30 percent to the gross domestic product.
Nepal generally relies on skies to raise agricultural yields because of lack of irrigation facilities. But excess rainfall also creates havoc, because rivers and their tributaries swell triggering floods and landslides.
“What is particularly worrying is the inundation of vegetable fields and flooding of fish ponds,” said Sapkota. “This is because inundation causes damage to vegetables in a relatively short period of time, while floods sweep away fishes from ponds.”
Excess rain, floods and landslides have destroyed vegetables worth around Rs140 million in the country’s eastern region alone.
The eastern region has also seen destruction of around Rs120 million worth of stored food, which largely includes cereal grains, and fishes worth around Rs30 million.
In Dhanusha district, vegetables planted on 1,573 hectares of land have been inundated, while fishes grown on 778 hectares of ponds have been affected by natural disasters. Bara district has also seen inundation of 9,675 hectares of vegetables fields, while fishes grown on 500 hectares of ponds have been affected.
These damages indicate food prices will go up in the coming days stoking inflation.