Monday Aug 8, 2022
Monday Aug 8, 2022

18th National Paddy Day celebrated symbolically due to COVID-19


Nepalnews
2021 Jun 29, 16:13, Kathmandu
Photo: creativecommons/google

Today is the 18th National Paddy Day and Paddy Cultivation Festival. The government had decided in 2061 BS to mark Ashad 15 of the Nepali calendar every year as National Paddy Day and Paddy Cultivation Festival.

Rice plantation, eating delicacies like curd and beaten rice, and participating in traditional cultural programmes like singing, throwing mud at each other and merriment, are the major attractions of the day. But like last year, this year too there were no such big events as the festival was celebrated symbolically due to the spread of COVID-19.

Paddy is the major crop not only in Nepal but in entire South Asia. It is the main staple crop of Nepal.

The coronavirus pandemic has made the celebrations dull for the past two years. Though farmers and the private sector celebrated the festival in a few places on their own, celebrations from the government level were limited just to formalities.

The day was celebrated symbolically by observing all health protocols in a bid to promote the significance of rice, encourage farmers, keep the tradition alive and for the publicity of the day, according to Officiating Director General of the department, Januka Pandit. The Department of Agriculture had directed all stakeholders and its units in the districts to mark the festival within the limits set by the government.

The 18th National Paddy Day and Paddy Cultivation Festival this year was celebrated with the slogan – ‘Growth in Paddy Production: Food Security, Self-reliance and Prosperity’.

A national level celebration was marked at the central level at the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC)’s farm in Khumaltar, Lalitpur, today, in the presence of Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Basanta Kumar Nembang. He inaugurated the celebration by planting paddy in the traditional method and with the help of rice planting equipment.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has concluded that agricultural and farming activities have to be continued by adopting health safety standards to reduce the possibility of food and nutrition insecurity in the future.

In this connection, the government has been facilitating the regular operation of all agricultural activities even during the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Ministry Spokesperson Dr Shreeram Ghimire said the ministry has brought programmes to expand the area of paddy cultivation, increase its production and promote paddy crop.

The government aims to attain self-sufficiency in rice production by conserving the land for rice cultivation, promoting clean and healthy seeds, expanding irrigation facilities, and developing hybrid and disease-resistant varieties.

It is said the area under paddy cultivation has increased by one per cent and production has risen by 1.3 per cent compared to the previous year.

Paddy is cultivated on 47 per cent of the total cultivable land in Nepal. The department stated that rice is cultivated in over 1.47 million hectares of land in the country and rice production is more than 5.62 million metric tonnes.

On the occasion, Minister Nembang said rice is very important in terms of food and nutrition security and therefore the staple crop should be promoted. He emphasised on increasing paddy productivity through research, mechanisation and modernisation.

"The government is making policy arrangements not only for paddy production but also for its systematic marketing and storage. It is necessary to move ahead making timely improvements in all these aspects," the minister added.

He stressed the need for agriculture development even for materialising the government's resolution that 'nobody goes hungry, nobody dies of hunger'. Agriculture is the dependant basis for the country's prosperity.

Secretary of the ministry Dr Yogendra Kumar Karki opined that increasing paddy production will be a challenge if research is not taken to the farmers' doorsteps. "There is a need to maintain harmonisation in the use of organic and chemical fertilisers. Farmers should get fertilisers on time to boost production. The problem will be solved once a fertiliser factory is set up within the country," he added.

Production of food grains in the country at present stands at 11.60 million metric tonnes whereas 9.60 million metric tonnes of food grains would be sufficient in Nepal. But Nepal has been importing rice worth more than Rs 40 billion annually. According to agriculture experts, this is so because the food culture has changed.

National Planning Commission (NPC) member, Dr Krishna Prasad Oli, pointed out the need to develop new hybrid varieties of paddy through research in view of the climate change impact.

National Farmers' Commission Chairperson, Dr Prem Prasad Dangal, stressed the need of taking technology to the doorsteps of the farmers to increase paddy production.

Executive Director of Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Dr Deepak Bhandari, suggested developing hybrid varieties of paddy to offset the growing import of fine-grain rice. He said the council was working towards this.

He also urged farmers to cultivate the Hardinath breed of paddy which was recently launched by the council.

READ ALSO:

National Paddy Day 18th Paddy Day Paddy Cultivation Festival covid-19 Nepal Agricultural Research Council Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development National Planning Commission Hybrid Variety rice
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