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Paddy output to fall 18 per cent due to natural disasters

Paddy output is likely to drop at least by 18 per cent due to landslide and floods, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The drop in paddy output – one of the major contributor to the agriculture sector that has one third contribution to the economic growth – is definitely going to hit the economic growth target of six per cent. The agriculture sector accounts for 36 per cent of the country’s GDP and paddy’s share alone stands at around eight per cent, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

Floods and landslides across the country during the paddy transplantation season have wiped out up to 35,040 hectares of paddy fields including fish ponds and other crops, according to preliminary estimate of the department.

“The loss caused by floods and landslides in 17 districts is estimated to be around Rs 1.91 billion,” it said, adding that the two unfavourable climatic behaviours are likely to affect output also due to untimely and insufficient rain fall. “Paddy transplantation has been completed on less then 90 per cent of the 1.52 million hectares available for paddy production, as of now.”

Paddy transplantation was completed on 98 per cent of the paddy fields in the same period in the last fiscal year that witnessed 5.2 per cent economic growth.

The floods, landslides and untimely rains are estimated to pull paddy output down by 15 per cent to 18 per cent in the current fiscal year, according to director general of the Department of Agriculture Yubak Dhoj GC.

Agricultural Ministry’s statistics also revealed that paddy transplantation in the mountain and hill regions has been completed on 94.5 per cent and 93 per cent of the fields. Likewise, transplantation in the Terai region – popularly known as the country’s food basket – has been completed on 85.5 per cent of the total 1.06 million hectares as of last week.

The ministry has estimated that transplantation will not cross 90 per cent in the current fiscal year.

The data compiled since mid-July revealed that floods and landslides in 17 districts, including in high rice-productivity districts Banke, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardia, Sarlahi and Surkhet, have destroyed significant amounts of paddy beds and affected standing cereal crops including maize, mustard and millet. “More than 29,000 households in 222 VDCs have been affected by the natural calamities.”

Likewise, floods and landslides destroyed almost 17,365 hectares of cultivated land in Sindhupalchok, Rautahat, Sarlahi and Ramechhap, whereas some 16,032 hectares have been damaged in Banke, Bardia and Surkhet in the mid-western region, though the monsoon arrived 10 days late on June 20 and the rains have also been dismal.

The paddy output dropped by 11.3 per cent to 4.50 million tonnes in the fiscal year 2012-13 due to drought that pulled down the growth of agriculture sector to 1.07 per cent. The poor agricultural growth also resulted in low economic growth.

But the good rainfall during the paddy transplantation season in the last fiscal year 2013-14 have boosted cereal output by 9.4 percent to 9.56 million tonnes, pushing the economic growth rate to 5.2 per cent.