The National Paddy Day and paddy plantation festival is being marked across the nation Wednesday.
Paddy day is observed on the 15th day of the month of Asar every year to mark the paddy cultivation season. Similarly, Asar 15 is also celebrated as a day to enjoy curd and beaten rice.
Nepal started celebrating Asar 15 as National Paddy Day from 2005 as per a minister-level decision taken on December 14, 2004. This year’s slogan of the Paddy Day is “Utility of rice in biodiversity, support in import substitution.”
Shortfall of 600,000 tonnes of rice supply
There is a shortfall of 600,000 tonnes of rice to meet the national demand in Nepal, according the Department of Agriculture.
At present, of the total annual demand of 4 million tonnes of rice, 3.4 million tonnes is produced within the country. Nepal spends more than Rs. 40 billion to import of 600,000 tonnes of rice.
According to the Department of Customs, rice and paddy worth Rs. 45.28 billion was imported during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year.
Spokesperson at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development Prakash Kumar Sanjel said that dependence on paddy rice has led to lower growth of paddy production compared to the growing population, fragmentation and aggregation of arable land, lack of manpower, irrigation and storage and market facilities.
He, however, said that the government has introduced special programmes to substitute at least 20 per cent import of basic foods, including paddy, in the upcoming fiscal year.
He urged all the stakeholders to unite and join hands in the task of substituting import of paddy by protecting, utilising various local indigenous varieties of paddy in Nepal. In the fiscal year 2021/22, paddy has been cultivated in an area of 1.47 million hectares of land and around 5.13 million tonnes of paddy was produced. Despite an increase of 26 per cent plantation area, production has declined by 8.74 per cent due to off-season rains in October last year.
A total of 5.621 million tonnes of paddy was produced in the fiscal year 2020/21.
The paddy production of the current fiscal year 2021/22 is the lowest in the last five years.
To achieve the national ambition of achieving self-reliance and prosperity by linking the paddy sector with the industry to reduce the gap between potential productivity and actual productivity by about 30 per cent to ensure quality fertilisers, improved seeds, reliable irrigation facilities and appropriate technical services and employment opportunities, strategic efforts are being initiated by all three levels of government, Sanjel said.
About 10 per cent of the total area of paddy cultivation in Nepal is occupied by indigenous and local varieties of paddy. While there are more than 2,500 indigenous varieties of paddy in Nepal, more than 150 varieties are being cultivated by the farmers.
About 17% plantation complete across the country
Paddy plantation has completed in around 17 per cent of the country’s total paddy filed so far.
Dr. Ram Krishna Shrestha, Chief of Centre for Crop Development and Agro Bio-diversity Conservation, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, said that paddy has been planted in 17 per cent of the paddy field across the country, which is almost 10 per cent less than the previous year.
Paddy plantation is going on in full swing across the country as there has been regular rainfall but the short supply of fertilisers has affected the plantation, he said.
According to him, plantation has not started in Madhes Province.
In Karnali, paddy has been planted in 40 per cent of paddy field, 8.85 per cent in Province 1, 25 per cent in Bagmati and 13.6 per cent in Gandaki Province. Likewise, 8.64 per cent paddy plantation has completed in Lumbini and 21 per cent in Sudurpaschhim Province. He expressed his hope that the paddy plantation will be in line with the last fiscal year as the rain is expected to be more this year than the last fiscal year.
Source : TRN,