There is no doubt that paddy is the most important cereal crop of Nepal. Rice alone accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s total agricultural area. Moreover, it also provides around 50 percent of the total calorie requirement of Nepali people. A large portion of the peasants with arable lands prefer paddy production over any other such crop.
Despite its immense economic and nutritional values, the scenario of paddy production is not as satisfactory as it should be. The progress in the volume of paddy production is strictly paltry. In 2000/01, the production quantity of was 4.21 million which increased to just 4.50 million in 2012/13.
In the last fiscal year 2013/14, the total production volume of rice stood at 5.05 million. But this volume is projected to take a nosedive by 13 percent in the current fiscal. Weak and untimely monsoon is ascribed to this bleak projection. The country’s GDP is bound to face the loss of Rs 12 billion due to such fall.
Another grave challenge is that the size of the cultivation lands of paddy is shrinking. The total area of such lands was 15,60,044 hectares in 2000/01, which decreased to 14,20,570 hectares in 2013/14. At the same time, the state of Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) of the country is also dismal. The SRR stands at mere 11 percent, which is very low compared to other countries.
These are among the prime factors stifling the prospects of more paddy production in the country. In fact, this anomaly is responsible behind the swelling imports of rice from the neighbouring India. In the last fiscal, the country imported rice worth Rs 12.37 billion, a rise of 46.4 percent compared to the previous fiscal.
So, what exactly is smothering the adequate production of paddy?
More than anything else, the lackadaisical approach of the government towards the entire agriculture sector is the prime bottleneck.
There is a pathetic lack of proper government policy to augment the production volume of vital crops like paddy.
Because of this problem, adequate irrigation facilities continue to elude the agriculture sector. So, the farmers are being shackled from increasing their paddy yields.
Like in other sectors, there is a dearth of required inter-ministerial coordination in paddy production too. This has inhibited the effective focused of resources into paddy production apart from triggering unwanted overlapping of agriculture projects.
Such being the reality, a focused and futuristic approach is mandatory to increase the paddy production by resolving the problems besetting. Such step will help meet the nutritional needs of Nepali people in a sustainable way. No need to say, it will also go a long way in enhancing the economic productivity of the country.