BUTWAL-Lack of fuel for tractors and water pumps has put farmers in the west in a bind. At a time when they should be planting seeds, farms lie fallow and barren. Just when the world is heading towards a food crisis, it seems Nepal too will not be far behind.
Bhimlal Neupane, a farmer from Murgiya in Rupandehi District, describes this as the worst crisis yet. "There are no oxen to plough the fields and there is no fuel to put into our tractors."
In recent years, farmers in the Tarai have started using tractors, instead of animals, to plough their fields. Fuel is required not just for the tractors but also for the water pumps that feed water into the fields. Says farmer Prem Thapa: "There is no fuel to run the water pumps and even if we wanted to work by rainfall, there is no fuel for the tractors. Now what do we do?"
According to the agriculture office, 75 percent of the fields were ploughed by tractors in the past years. One hectare of land requires at least one and a half litres of diesel. According to Rupandehi's agriculture office, out of the 85,122 hectares of arable land in the district, around 11,000 hectares are fed by water from tube wells and pumps. Some places use electric tube wells but the majority run on diesel. Even those which run on electricity are at the mercy of loadshedding.
The lack of fuel has put a halt to all agricultural activities. "There is no kerosene to cook food. Where do we get fuel to plough and irrigate?" says Bhujauli's Prabhu Prasad Chaudhari.