Late monsoon, followed by heavy rains, leads to poor paddy transplantationFarmers have finished planting paddy on only 40.46 percent of the country's paddy acreage so far.
Paddy transplantation had been completed on less than half of the country's rice fields as of Tuesday due to a late monsoon and recent torrential rains that caused widespread havoc.
Officials said farmers had transplanted paddy on 40.46 percent of the country's paddy acreage, far below what was achieved in the same period last year.
Halfway through the rainy season, farmers have transplanted paddy on 554,949 hectares out of the 1.37 million hectares suitable for growing the staple crop, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
During the same period in 2017-18, transplantation had been carried out on 64 percent of the paddy fields across the country, the ministry said. Transplantation was done on 95.15 percent of the paddy fields during the whole of the monsoon season last year.
According to government officials, the late monsoon followed by heavy rainfall that occurred from Thursday to Saturday affected transplantation of the main food crop. Tej Bahadur Subedi, spokesperson for the ministry, said the monsoon was delayed by around 10 days this year.
“The heavy downpour on the following days hit paddy farmers,” said Subedi, adding that paddy fields in Province 2 in particular had been affected badly. According to him, large tracts of farmland alongside the Bagmati River and Koshi Barrage were inundated.
The ministry’s record shows that paddy has been transplanted on only 60,805 hectares out of the 365,615 hectares in Province 2 so far. This comes to 16.63 percent of the paddy fields in the province.
Farmers have to wait for the monsoon rains to transplant paddy due to lack of irrigation facilities. According to Subedi, paddy transplantation starts on July 1 and continues for two weeks in the hilly region. In the Tarai plains, farmers start transplanting paddy in mid-July and continue for three weeks.
“We are still hopeful that the transplantation will increase significantly in the next two weeks in the Tarai,” said Subedi.
The paddy cultivation season lasts for four months from May to August. The harvest continues until October. In some cases, farmers carry on transplantation till August-end depending on the rain. “But such transplantation does not yield a good harvest,” said Subedi.
Province-wise, Sudur Paschim had the highest paddy transplantation rate. The farmers there have finished transplanting paddy on 69.60 percent of the fields. Karnali and Gandaki provinces followed with transplantation rates of 67.83 percent and 67.40 percent of the paddy fields respectively.
Nepal’s paddy harvest hit a record high of 5.61 million tonnes last season, up 9 percent, according to the ministry. This was on the back of a good monsoon and sufficient supply of chemical fertiliser.
Denying reports of chemical fertiliser shortages during the transplanting season, Subedi said the ministry had supplied 45,000 tonnes of diammonium phosphate this year, the nutrient which is mainly required during the transplantation season.
According to the ministry, demand for fertiliser last year stood at 60,000 tonnes. “The deficit this year is expected to be fulfilled by the private sector,” said Subedi.
The sharp fall in the paddy transplantation rate is likely to swell the country’s ballooning imports of food items. Despite adequate and timely rainfall last year which resulted in a bumper harvest, Nepal imported rice worth Rs27.89 billion during the first 10 months of the fiscal year 2018-19, an increase of 15.4 percent year-on-year.
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