Cereal output jumped by 9.4 per cent to 9.56 million tonnes during the current fiscal year due to good and timely rains and an adequate supply of chemical fertilizers.

According to a preliminary estimate of the Agriculture Ministry, the overall growth in cereal production has helped the agricultural sector to grow by 4.72 percent in the current fiscal year 2013-14.

“Good rain, distribution of improved seeds, increased farm mechanisation and adequate distribution of chemical fertilizers helped healthy growth in agriculture output,” said co-spokesperson at the ministry Tek Prasad Luitel.

The good performance of the agriculture sector will give a much needed boost to the economic growth.

The agricultural sector witnessed a growth of 1.07 per cent in the last fiscal year, Luitel said, adding that the country produced an extra 824,000 tonnes of food grain in the current fiscal year.

Of the total agriculture production, summer crops – paddy, maize and buckwheat – is expected to increase by 12 per cent, 9.8 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively, though millet production is expected to drop by 0.5 per cent, it added. ” Paddy occupies a 53 per cent share in the total cereal output while the share of maize and wheat is 24 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.”

Likewise, winter crops – wheat and barley – have also shown a poor performance. The output of wheat is estimated to grow by a meagre 0.05 per cent while barley is expected to decrease by 5.8 per cent.

The growth in paddy output is attributed to the implementation of improved varieties of paddy seeds like Sabatri, Bindeswori, Radha 4 and 12 in the Tarai region; Khumal 4, 10 and 11 in mid-hill region and Chandannath in the mountain region. “The paddy productivity has increased by seven per cent,” Luitel added. “These recommended varieties have a potential to yield double the harvest of local seeds, and around 90 per cent of these varieties are applied by farmers.”

Likewise, the area under cereal production has also increased 4.1 per cent to 3.48 million hectares in the current fiscal year. The current fiscal year also witnessed less natural disasters as only 13,600 hectares of farmland were affected by natural disasters.

There has also been shift to the commercial vegetable farming from the regular cereal due to higher return. “The commercial vegetable production has grown by 5.2 per cent to 3.47 million tones,” he said, adding that fruits production but rose by a meager 0.2 per cent to 940,731 tonnes.

The ministry said that the pulse sector has, however, performed badly. The statistics revealed that pulse production dropped by 17.2 per cent to 294,709 tonnes. “A sharp decline in lentil production has affected the overall output of pulses,” said chief statistician at the ministry Hem Raj Regmi.

Lentil accounts for more than 60 per cent of the total pulse crops. The oilseed crop has grown by 1.1 per cent to 185,412 tonnes, but spice crops – ginger and chilli – are expected to grow by 14.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively.

However, cardamom production is expected to drop by 9.8 per cent, garlic by 11.4 per cent and turmeric by 14.8 per cent, he said, adding that tea and coffee output is, however, expected to grow by two per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively. “The floriculture business is expected to record to around Rs 1 billion in the current fiscal year.”

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