Farmers prefer buying rice to planting spring paddyThe production of spring paddy has dropped sharply in Palpa district due to labour shortages, shrinking irrigation facilities with water sources drying up and increasing migration to urban areas.
Published at : March 26, 2018
Updated at : March 26, 2018 08:19
The production of spring paddy has dropped sharply in Palpa district due to labour shortages, shrinking irrigation facilities with water sources drying up and increasing migration to urban areas.
Previously, a large number of farmers used to grow the crop known as ‘chaite dhan’, but now they have had to cut the acreage due to an acute shortage of farm hands as young people are rushing abroad in droves to work as migrant labourers. Many farmers are buying rice with the remittance sent home by migrant workers instead of planting spring paddy.
Tilbir Rana of Nisdi Rural Municipality-2 Sahalkot has not planted spring paddy on his 10-ropani plot for the last five years as his son has gone abroad while his sister-in-law teaches his grandchildren. “Rainfall has decreased compared to previous years. Most youths are abroad, and their wives have moved to the towns and the Tarai,” said Bishnu Pangeni of Rampur Municipality-9 Lamdikhola.
“Farmers used to plant spring paddy on the fields near small and large rivers,” said Iman Singh Rana of Nisdi-2 Sukekot. “However, in recent years, it is hard to see spring paddy being cultivated except on a few fields near the Nisdi River. There used to be water even in the rivulets about a decade ago. Now there is little water even in the large rivers,” he said.
Water sources have dried up because of droughts and earthquakes. “When there isn’t enough water even for drinking, irrigating the fields to plant spring paddy is inconceivable,” he said.
According to the District Agricultural Office (DAO), spring paddy used to be the second most important crop in the district. Many farmers used to plant spring paddy on the fields in Madi, known as the district’s grain basket, which lies near the Tinau River. More than 50 percent of the farmers around Rampur, Jhadewa, Arun River, Purba River, Lamdi River, Argali and Nisdi River used to cultivate spring paddy because there was adequate water for irrigation. Currently, only about 10 percent of the farmers plant spring paddy.
Santa Bir Rana, a local of Mathagadhi-3, said, “Dependency on remittance money has led to waning interest among farmers to plant spring paddy.” He added, “Besides other reasons, more effort is required to plant paddy during the spring season than during the monsoon.”
Planting paddy saplings for the spring crop is more difficult than for the regular paddy crop during the rainy season. Besides, there is a risk that the seedlings won’t grow properly due to inappropriate weather and temperature.
Compared to previous years, less than 80 percent of the farmers are planting spring paddy even in places with irrigation facilities such as Kirtipur, Galdha, Lamdi River, Arun River and Purba River. Spring paddy can be harvested within three to four months. Planted in spring, the crop matures at the beginning of the rainy season.
“In the past, many families did not have to buy even a kilo of rice. However, with trucks now delivering rice to the front door, people have been showing less interest in planting spring paddy,” said DAO officer Kishor Man Shrestha.
The rice produced from spring paddy is relatively more expensive than the rice produced from paddy grown during the monsoon. Spring paddy is considered for making beaten rice (also known as ‘chiura’).
The local varieties of paddy, Chaite-2 and Chaite-3, were cultivated on 815 hectares in the district. The country possesses 1.42 million hectares of land suitable for growing paddy. However, spring paddy is planted on only 112,000 hectares.
The government has come up with schemes in the past to expand the acreage of spring paddy by 200,000 hectares in a bid to increase output and make the country self-reliant in food grain.
Most farmers do not prefer spring paddy as it bears a larger grain. However, it has higher productivity than regular paddy. According to a governmental source, the productivity of spring paddy is 4 tonnes per hectare compared to 3.17 tonnes for regular paddy.