Kathmandu, Oct. 25: Secretary at the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) Uday Chandra Thakur Monday said that the government had accorded priority to increasing productivity and production of paddy to make the country self-reliant in rice production within two years.
“The ministry and its concerned bodies are implementing various agricultural programmes to increase agricultural productivity and production by providing high yield seeds and agricultural inputs to the farmers,” he said while addressing a workshop entitled ‘Accelerating the Adoption of Stress-Tolerant Rice Varieties (ASTV)’ organised by the smallholder farmers in Nepal and Cambodia. USAID is supporting the programme.
“No doubt Nepal needs technical know-how and skill enhancement support projects to make our effort a success,” Thakur said.
He expressed his hope that the USAID-ASTV project would provide support to increasing the productivity of agricultural crops, especially rice, by distributing high quality seeds to the farmers.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is producing improved rice seeds, distributing of drought and flood-tolerant rice seed for free, and encouraging the use of modern technologies and enhancement of farmers’ capacity and skills in 22 districts of Nepal.
For this, IRRI is working with USAID-ASTV, MoAD, the Department of Agriculture and Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC).
“The government has selected Jhapa district as a super zone for rice production under the Prime Minister Agriculture Commercialisation Project,” he said.
Besides, the ministry is implementing the 20-year Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) for the development of this sector, secretary Thakur said.
Stating that agriculture has been playing a vital role in the Nepalese economy, contributing approximately one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing nearly two-thirds of the country’s population, he said that the government had focused on commercialisation, mechanisation and industrialisation of this sector.
“Imbalance use of chemical fertilisers, lack of agriculture inputs and proper irrigation facilities and quality seeds are affecting the agricultural output,” he said.
Rice is the major agriculture product that contributed around 21 per cent in Agriculture Gross Domestic Product and 7 per cent in the GDP of Nepal.
In fiscal year 2015/16, the rice was planted in 1.4 million hectares of land and 4.3 million tons of rice was produced. Per hectare productivity of rice stood at 3.2 metric tons.
“The major objective of IRRI, financially supported by USAID-ASTV project, is to minimise poverty, hunger and increase the income of poor families by distributing drought and flood-tolerant improved quality seeds,” said Dr. Yubak Dhoj G.C, director general of the Department of Agriculture.
The project is being implemented in 4 districts of western region, 10 districts of mid-western region and 6 districts of far-western development region with high rate of poverty and food insecurity.
In these districts, the female members have to support the families for a livelihood because of the absence of male members who have gone abroad for employment.
He further said that the DoAD, NARC and IRRI were conducting research on new rice varieties introduced in Nepal by the IRRI as early paddy in order to estimate yield increment.
On the occasion, Dr. Abdelbagi M. Ismail, overall project leader and principal scientist, IRRI-Philippines, said limited capacity of seeds system and insufficient high quality seeds, insufficient and poor quality inputs and timely delivery were key constraints for improving rice productivity.
He said that the objective of the project was to enhance and stabilise rice productivity by promoting, producing and distributing seeds of high yield to the farmers and provide needs-based training for stakeholders on quality seeds production and processing and storage.
Last year, the IRRI had distributed about 252 metric tons of different improved rice varieties to more than 50,000 rice farmers of 22 districts.