Paddy damage by freak rains estimated at Rs8.26 billionAccording to preliminary estimates by the agriculture ministry, 325,258 tonnes of ready-to-harvest paddy on 85,580 hectares have either submerged or swept away in seven provinces.
Last week’s unseasonal rains and floods have damaged paddy crops worth Rs8.26 billion, the highest losses on record, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said on Sunday.
According to preliminary estimates of the losses by the ministry on Sunday, ready-to-harvest paddy crops on 85,580 hectares have been swept away or submerged by floodwaters in all seven provinces.
The ministry said 325,258 tonnes of paddy worth around Rs 8.26 billion has been destroyed. This excludes losses of livestock and food stored by farmers.
Agriculture ministry spokesperson Prakash Kumar Sanjel told the Post that agriculture ministers and secretaries of all seven provinces will be meeting on Tuesday to review the actual losses and assess relief schemes for affected farmers.
“The losses may come down or increase. The final details will come on Tuesday.”
President Bidya Devi Bhandari has summoned the agriculture minister, secretary and officials on Monday to take stock of the situation and discuss relief distribution.
The country suffered floods following the unseasonal torrential rains that started on October 17 and killed more than 100 people and left settlements in several districts awash in water.
Heavy rainfall is unusual in Nepal during October, which is traditionally outside the monsoon season. Weathermen have warned that more rain is likely in the coming days, sparking fears of more floods and landslides.
The rains started on October 17 in the western part of Nepal and then moved to the eastern part on October 19 claiming lives, damaging roads and bridges and other physical infrastructure in various districts.
The ministry said that Lumbini province suffered the highest losses. The heavy rains damaged more than 161,000 tonnes of paddy worth Rs4.51 billion. In the key affected areas—Bardia, Kapilvastu, Banke and Nawalparasi—the flood swept away or submerged paddy crops on more than 42,000 hectares.
In Kailali and Kanchanpur districts of the Sudhupaschhim province, the rains damaged 68,400 tonnes of paddy on 18,000 hectares. The total losses in the province have been assessed at Rs1.91 billion.
More than 28,400 tonnes of paddy on 7,492 hectares have been destroyed in Province 1 which is equivalent to Rs800 million. The affected districts are Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari.
Similarly, Province 2 suffered a paddy crop loss worth around Rs560 million. A total of 20,350 tonnes of paddy planted on 5,355 hectares have been destroyed in Saptari, Siraha and Sarlahi districts, the ministry said.
Karnali Province suffered paddy damage worth Rs300 million. More than 40,200 tonnes of paddy on 10,584 hectares in Dolpa, Jumla, Salyan and Surkhet have been damaged.
Syangja, Kaski and Nawalparasi [East] districts of Gandaki Province combined suffered paddy losses worth Rs130 million. More than 4,500 tonnes of paddy on 1,192 hectares have been destroyed, the ministry said.
In Bagmati province, 2,068 tonnes of paddy worth Rs58 million have been destroyed. The ministry said that in Chitwan and Nuwakot of Bagmati province, paddy crops on 530 hectares were destroyed.
The thousands of tonnes of ripe crops that were submerged will also get less value in the market as its quality has been ruined.
Destruction of paddy is a major setback for Nepal’s economy. Paddy alone contributes around 7 percent to the national gross domestic product and is the major income source for more than half of the population.
The sudden and extreme rainfall that occurred about a month after the monsoon usually ends in Nepal, has left experts wondering–and worried–how climate change is impacting the economy and livelihoods of the people.
Economists say the destruction of human lives, property and crops may dent economic growth which has already been strangled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nepal’s economic wellbeing is intimately linked to the rainy season. Water from the skies is the lifeblood of Nepal's Rs4.26 trillion economy which is farm-dependent, as nearly two-thirds of the farmlands are rain-fed. But last week’s unseasonal rains spelt a disaster.
Paddy is transplanted in most of Nepal in June and harvested in October.
“Based on the preliminary loss data, we think the country’s economic growth may drop by 0.5 to 0.6 percentage points,” economist Keshav Acharya recently told the post.
“The losses of other physical assets like roads, bridges and infrastructure are huge. Moreover, the loss of human lives or human capital is big but it is not counted in the economy.”