The government has planned to expand the acreage of Chaite Dhan (spring paddy) by 200,000 hectares in a bid to increase output and make the country self-reliant in food grain.
According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, the government has accorded priority to boosting the production of both summer and spring crops. Dilaram Bhandari, director of the Crop Development Directorate (CDD), said they had aimed to increase the spring crop acreage to an additional 350,000 hectares having round-the-year irrigation facilities.
The country possesses 1.42 million hectares of land suitable for growing paddy. However, spring paddy is planted on only 112,000 hectares.
Bhandari said the ministry was planning to increase the spring crop acreage to 300,000 hectares. “The ministry has also planned to use improved technology and seeds of both types of paddy,” he said.
Most farmers do not prefer spring paddy which has a larger grain. However, it has a higher productivity than regular paddy. According to the directorate, the productivity of spring paddy is 4 tonnes per hectare compared to 3.17 tonnes for regular paddy.
The country produced 4.5 million tonnes of paddy last year. As per government statistics, there is a deficit of 1.2 million tonnes.
Yuvak Dhoj GC, director general of the Department of Agriculture, said the government had given priority to spring paddy to address the short supply of the cereal. According to him, production can be increased by 20 percent by planting the improved seeds.
Paddy output has dropped sharply this year due to poor rainfall. “As a result, many farmers have abandoned paddy cultivation,” said GC.
The National Agriculture Research Centre (Narc) has recommended seed varieties like Chaite-2, Chaite-4 and Hardinath-1.
The government has planned to provide farmers an incentive of Rs5,000 per hectare each to encourage them to grow paddy.
According to the CDD, the government will be providing the subsidy for 5,000 hectares of land in 15 districts. The government has targeted to expand the programme to 22 districts by next year.
Similarly, the government is providing a 50 percent subsidy on spring crop seeds while Nepal Food Corporation will fix the price and purchase the harvests from farmers.
CDD Director Bhandari said the corporation had been reluctant to buy spring crops as they could contain moisture during harvest time.
Meanwhile, the International Rice Research Institute has expanded the distribution of the improved paddy seeds to 21 districts that are considered to be food insecure. The paddy can be grown on dry as well as wet land, according to the institute.
Bhava Prasad Tripathi, senior officer at the institute, said they had launched the programme in eight districts in the Tarai and 13 district in the hills.
They are Banke, Bardiya, Kanchanpur, Kailali, Dang, Kapilvastu, Jhapa, Morang, Baitadi, Doti, Dadeldhura, Achham, Surkhet, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Rolpa, Salyan, Pyuthan, Palpa, Arghakhanchi and Gulmi.
Source: The Kathmandu Post