Rudra Khadka/Prashant Khadka
June 23: Different government bodies publish different types of data from time to time. Although the data made public by the Department of Customs, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), and Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) are based on records, surveys and studies, some agencies make data public based on speculation.
The practice of publishing data randomly has raised serious questions about the authenticity of data. An example of this is the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. Due to the negligence of the officials of the ministry and its subordinate bodies, it has been found that about 1.1 million metric tonnes of rice have been misappropriated in one fiscal year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nepal had produced 5.55 million metric tons of paddy in the fiscal year 2076/77. This amount of paddy produces 3.774 million metric tons of rice. This figure is based on the assumption that 0.68 kg of rice is produced from one kg of paddy. This has been the upheld in Nepal since the last four decades (since 2045 BS). However, due to the recent increase in efficiency of modern rice mills, it is estimated that more than 0.68 kg of rice will be produced from one kg of rice. However, the ministry is still working on the assumption that 0.68 kg of rice can be produced from 1 kg of paddy.
According to the Ministry, progress reports for the fiscal years 2077/78 and 2078/79 are being published. Although the paddy production did not decrease much in the Fiscal Year 2077/78 compared to the previous year, it has declined by about 8 per cent in the current fiscal year.
Officials said unseasonal rainfall during the paddy harvesting season last October led to such a decline in production.
"Paddy production has declined by about 8 per cent compared to the previous year due to problems including unseasonal rainfall at the time of harvesting," said Prakash Kumar Sanjel, joint secretary and spokesperson of the ministry.
About 8 per cent of the previous year's paddy production was 31,997 tons. In this regard, in the current Fiscal Year 2078/79, Nepal has produced 3.47 million metric tons of rice.
Now let's look at the statistics of Nepal's population and per capita annual rice consumption. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the population of Nepal is 29.19 million. About 2.2 million of them live abroad. Assuming that the number of foreigners working in Nepal is the same, 27.2 million people are currently living in Nepal.
According to the Household Survey-2016/17 published by the Department of Statistics, an average person consumes 117.8 kg of rice in a year. Accordingly, Nepal needs about 3.43 million metric tons of rice annually. This statistic shows that Nepal has become self-sufficient in rice in terms of production and consumption. Even if a person consumes 125 kg of rice instead of 117 kg, Nepal does not have to import much to meet the internal demand of rice.
However, according to the data of the Department of Customs for the Fiscal Year 2077/78, Nepal imported 1.18 million metric tons of rice. Some questions have been raised after more than 1.1 million tons of rice were imported, even though the rice required for Nepal's population was sufficient.