The National Paddy Day will be observed across the country on Tuesday, by planting rice seedlings. The Day, observed on the 15th of the Nepali month of Asar, marks the official beginning of paddy plantation. The United Nations had declared to celebrate the year 1966 as the Year of the Rice with the slogan ‘freedom from hunger’, declaring rice as the ‘crop of the year’. Nepal has been celebrating the Asar 15 as the National Paddy Day since 2005.
The objective of marking the National Paddy Day is to increase the productivity in the context of growing dependency on import of food crops each passing year. Planting seedlings, eating curd and beaten rice and singing songs are the main features of the National Paddy Day, which is observed as a celebration as well.
Of around 1.425 million hectare of land suitable for paddy cultivation in the country, rice has been planted only on eight per cent of it as of today, Shankar Prasad Sapkota of the Ministry of Agricultural Development said.
Rice is the staple crop of Nepal and an increase in its production boosts the Gross Domestic Product whereas a decrease in the production leads to a slump in the economic condition. Nepal in the past used to export rice, but for many years now, the country imports it. Nepal imports around one million metric tonnes of rice annually. This year, the country imported rice worth approximately Rs 14 billion from India, said Minister for Agriculture Hari Prasad Parajuli. But picture is not that bleak, according Adhikari, who said Nepal will be self sufficient in rice in coming three years.
Photo: Naresh Shrestha/THT