KATHMANDU: Today — the 15th of Nepali month of Ashad — is celebrated as Paddy Day in Nepal.
The day bears special significance to farmers of the country as it is marked as a day to plant in pinch and harvest in sacks and is observed by singing and playing with the swampy field smearing mud to each-other.
Nepal has been celebrating Paddy Day since 2005. The slogan for this year’s day is an increment in paddy production, independence, and prosperity.
In terms of season, 5 types of paddy crops are produced in Nepal: monsoon, Bhadai (meaning the paddy planted in August), Ghaiya and Winter Paddy (Boro).
According to the Department of Agriculture (DoA), nearly 20% of paddy plantation has been complete by June 29, which is 9% more than last year. Last year, some 11% plantation was complete by this time.
Dr. Mahadev Prasad Poudel, the information officer at the DoA, gives credit for this early progress to the early monsoon this year.
Paddy crop occupies nearly 47% of the arable land in which both in the area and production Terai region holds high position; the Terai contributes to 70% of the paddy production in the country.
Similarly, paddy crop occupies 43% of the area occupied by the crops. In the meantime, the contribution of rice in total production of crops in Nepal is 53%.
Around 167.1 million hectares of land go to paddy crops globally. The global production of paddy is 782 million metric tons. Interestingly, Asia consumes 90% of this production.
In terms of production, China is the biggest producer of paddy crops and is followed by India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Nepal has a 17th position in terms of paddy production.
In the case of Nepal, the rice is cultivated from the height of 60 m above sea level in Terai to 3000 meters of the hills of Jumla’s Chhumchaur.
Out of 26.50% contribution of agriculture in the gross domestic product of the country, 15.35% goes to the paddy production.
Nepal produces more than 5 million metric tons of paddy annually
According to the statistics provided by the DoA, Nepal produces 5 to 5.5 million metric tons of paddy every year. Yet, this Himalayan country consumes nearly 7 million metric tons of paddy annually.
DG Poudel informed that the country balances the demand and supply of this crop by importing 10-15 metric tons of paddy from outside.
Nepal had produced 5.53 million metric tons of rice in FY 2016/17 when the succeeding year FY 2017/18 saw 5.15 million metric tons as the product here.
Similarly, in 2018/19 the country produced 5.55 million metric tons from 1.45 million hectares of land. Although in terms of the area and production there was a fall of production by 2.20% and 1.05% respectively; the gross production has increased by 1.2%.
Nepal spends 30 billion on the import of paddy
Despite the growth in paddy production and productivity, Nepal has to import billions to meet the demand for rice in the country.
As most Nepali kitchen entertains the flavor and odor of rice rather than of porridge or flour products, the country is compelled to meet the demand for rice by importing rice worth 30 billion rupees every year.