Business

Met: Monsoon to pick up pace in a few days

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Jun 18, 2017-

Monsoon is expected to pick up pace in a few days after a slow start, bringing hopes to Nepal’s agrarian economy that heavily depends on monsoon rains as they spur planting of crops, particularly paddy. 

The June-September monsoon is crucial for farm output and economic growth in Nepal, where only 40 percent of the country’s 2.64 million hectares of arable land has round-the-year irrigation facility. Of the total area, paddy is planted on 1.5 million hectares of land.

According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, this year monsoon entered Nepal on June 12, two days later than the normal onset date. However, it continues to be weak. 

“Although rainfall started with weak intensity a week ago, we hope it will be active in a few days,” said Rishi Ram Sharma, director general at the department. 

According to Sharma, modes of Nepal summer monsoon are characterized by “active and break” spells of rainfall. “Initially, we observed a break.” 

June monsoon is vital as it recharges the rivers and rivulets and also helps farmers to prepare paddy seedling.  Normally, prior to transplanting, seedlings are raised in a nursery.

Nepal is likely to get a “normal” monsoon as per the consensus statement of the 10th session of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (Sascof) released in April. According to the Sascof, except the Far Western Region, the probability of the monsoon in the rest of the country is normal. The forum was held in Bhutan from April 24-26.

Sharma said overall monsoon this year is forecast to be normal in eastern, mid-western and western part of the country. Monsoon forecast for the Far-Western Region is below normal. “However, monsoon this year will not be as good as last year,” said Sharma. 

Nepal’s farm sector is expected to register a nine-year high growth rate of 5.32 percent this fiscal year ending mid-July, fuelled by good monsoon, after hitting rock bottom last fiscal year, the Economic Survey 2016-17 shows. 

The survey said that bumper harvest of paddy and growth in production of other key foodgrains helped the sector to make a recovery.  Nepal’s farm sector saw a negative growth of 0.19 percent for the first time last fiscal year due to summer and winter droughts. The average rainfall from June 10 to August 15 in the last fiscal year was 74.2 percent of the average rainfall of the past 30 years.

The farm sector is expected to make a contribution of Rs691.2 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This is 28.89 percent of the GDP, down from 31.1 percent recorded in the last fiscal.

The major contributor to the agricultural sector is paddy. 

Paddy production is projected to jump 21.66 percent to 5.23 million tonnes this fiscal year. This is the first time paddy harvests had gone up in the last two years. 

In the last fiscal year, a crippling drought hit paddy production severely, reducing paddy output by 10.22 percent to 4.29 million tonnes.

The survey shows output of cereals (paddy, maize, wheat, buckwheat, millet and barley) is likely to jump 13 percent to 9.74 million tonnes this fiscal year due to timely rains, and adequate supply of fertiliser and improved variety of seeds.

Similarly, output of cash crops like potato and vegetables is projected to grow by 8 percent to 2.75 million tonnes and 9 percent to 4.16 million tonnes, respectively. 

The growth rate of high-value crops and exportable items like ginger and large cardamom is expected to hover around 9.25 percent and 5.66 percent, respectively. Experts said that adequate monsoon rain would also hold down inflation as bumper crop harvest eases the market prices.