People's Review Weekly

Food shortage looms large

- By Our Reporter

At a time when the monsoon season has reached its halfway point, nearly all the Tarai districts are facing a situation of an extreme drought situation affecting the paddy plantation.

Because of the belowavera­ge rainfall, many farmers in the Tarai are unable to plant paddy. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Agricultur­e and Livestock Developmen­t, paddy plantation has been carried out only in 1.053 million hectares of 1.357 million hectares of paddy fields, which is 77 per cent.

By July 28 last year, the paddy plantation had completed in 90 per cent of paddy fields.

In two months from June 1 to August 1, Nepal received 665.7 mm of rainfall, which is 45.2 per cent of the monsoon's overall precipitat­ion. Last year, Nepal received 1472 mm of rainfall from June 1 to September 30. The rainfall deficit was concentrat­ed in the Tarai region with 20 to 40 per cent below the average, as reported by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorolog­y (DHM). The DHM had already predicted below-normal rainfall in most parts of the country this monsoon.

The rainfall measuremen­t centres of Dhangadhi, Surkhet, Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa, Simara, Janakpur and Dhankuta recorded below-normal precipitat­ion this year. Among these districts, Dhanusha received rainfall below 20 per cent of the average while the rainfall in Nepalgunj and Dhankuta was 40 per cent below the average precipitat­ion.

With poor rainfall, the paddy plantation is the lowest in Madhes Province, where the largest amount of paddy is grown.

It is said that the plantation has completed only in 59 per cent (209,086 hectares) of the total paddy fields of 354,383 hectares of Madhes. The plantation was completed in 89 per cent of the total paddy fields last year. With poor plantation­s in Nepal and a ban by India on the export of rice, Nepal is likely to face a food shortage this year. The impact of the Indian ban has already been felt with soaring prices of rice in the market.

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