June 22: Farmers in different districts are busy planting paddy amid the dire situation of the coronavirus pandemic. With the onset of monsoon and rainfall, farmers have started planting paddy despite the risk of disease transmission.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, farmers in across the country are busy planting paddy at this time. Farmers of Kathmandu, Dhading, Makwanpur, Kaski, Baglung, Jhapa, Panchthar, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dang, Pyuthan, Nawalparasi, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, and Kanchanpur are busy planting paddy.
So far this year, the ministry has not received data on how much land has been planted with paddy.
According to the ministry, most of the industries, trades, and businesses have been shut down this year due to the prohibitory order imposed by the government to prevent and control the surge of coronavirus. Therefore, the area of paddy cultivation is estimated to increase by about 20 percent this year as compared to last year, said Shri Ram Ghimire, spokesperson of the ministry.
According to the statistics of the Ministry, paddy was cultivated in 1.45 million hectares of land out of the total cultivable land in the Fiscal Year 2019/20. The area of paddy cultivation had increased by about 15,000 hectares in the fiscal year 2020/21 following lockdown to contain the first wave of coronavirus.
About 3.1 million hectares of land in Nepal are considered suitable for agriculture.
Although the government does not have the exact data on how much of land is barren, it is said that the land remains barren due to migration of locals from villages to cities, the attraction of youths for foreign employment, lack of irrigation, and decline in production. Stakeholders say that the main contributor to the production is the monsoon trend as more than 60 percent of the land under paddy is dependent on rainwater.
Last year, farmers in most of the districts were facing shortage of fertilizer due to the scarcity of chemical fertilizer during paddy plantation season. However, the government claims that there will be no shortage of chemical fertilizers this year as there is sufficient stock of chemical fertilizers and there are no problems in import.
According to Bishnu Prasad Pokhrel, spokesperson of the Agricultural Inputs Company Limited, the import of fertilizer is going smoothly and the stock is also sufficient. The Agricultural Inputs Company and Salt Trading Corporation currently have about 80,000 metric tons of chemical fertilizer in stock. Pokharel said that the problem has been resolved even though the farmers have complained that they have not received fertilizer due to the lockdown.