For Nepal, whose economic mainstay is agriculture, bumper rice harvest is a good news. It is going to be a positive indication for the whole economy. Rice being the main cereal food grain of the country, significant increase in its output can be helpful for the much needed growth of the national economy that has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bumper rice yield can also play an instrumental role in maintaining food security and achieving self-sufficiency in agricultural supplies. According to a news report carried by this daily on Tuesday, Nepal has achieved record breaking rice production this year which is expected to give a positive fillip to its pandemic-affected economy.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has said that rice production this year increased to 5.621 million tonnes from 5.55 million tonnes of the previous fiscal year. This year’s rice production is 70,831 tonnes higher than that of the last year. The rate of rice productivity per hectare has also increased which jumped to 3.82 tonnes per hectare this year from 0.28 tonnes per hectare last fiscal year. Good monsoon rain is a crucial factor that largely determines the level of rice production in Nepal. This means that we largely depend on the grace of nature regarding the fate of our agro-production. Productivity can be raised still higher if we are able to upgrade the quality and scale of agricultural infrastructure and inputs.
For a country rich in its water resources, construction of good irrigation facilities can assist in agricultural output even in the years when monsoon rains may not be favourable as expected. Improved farming technology, use of right amount of manure and fertilisers, employment of efficient agro experts, application of scientific tilling methods and removing the fragmentation of farming land into tiny plots could also make a big difference. Officials at the Ministry have said that favourable monsoon rain has played its part in the significant increase in rice output. In addition, rice plantations were carried out in expanded areas this year compared to the last year. The Ministry’s data showed that paddy plantation was carried out in 1.47 hectares of land this year which is 14,559 hectares higher than previous year.
Secretary at the agriculture ministry said that rice output increased thanks to favourable monsoon and an increase in paddy plantation area. Labour was also a contributing factor because ample number of workers was available in the local areas during this year’s planting season due to COVID-19 lockdown. Use of modern farming technology and improved varieties of seeds has also been given credibility. At a time when the nation is importing food items from abroad and trade deficit is widening, increased rice production offers rays of hope for import substitution, food self-reliance and better trade balance. The onus lies on introducing appropriate policies and programmes to sustain good agricultural production with less dependency on monsoon only. With the use of modern technology and irrigation infrastructure, arid and dry lands can be turned into lush and productive farmland. Given its fertile soil and hardworking people, Nepal can bring agro-revolution and attain food self-reliance.