Nepali Times
Nepal can feed itself

Next week, the country marks rice-planting day. Nepal used to be a net exporter of rice, today it imports staple grain. The ongoing census will show us how fast our population is growing, and whether or not our farm productivity can keep pace.

Despite a banking crisis, a power crisis, a political stalemate, and stagnant investment Nepal's economy is expected to grow by 5 per cent this year. What saved us was the most-neglected part of the economy: agriculture. Nearly half the paddy fields are rain-fed, and last year's favourable monsoon with timely winter rains meant that rice production grew by 11 percent.

With sustained investment in irrigation and technology there is no reason why Nepal can't feed itself. Travelling across Nepal this week, it was clear that for a majority of Nepalis the priority was neither the constitution nor the politics in faraway Kathmandu. It was whether the rains will come in time, whether fertiliser will be affordable and whether farmers will get a fair price for their produce.

A new way of rice farming called SRI (System of Rice Intensification) is bringing new hope to thousands of farmers in 35 districts across Nepal. With minor adjustments to their planting method, farmers can grow double the rice with less seed, less water and less fertiliser.

Not all solutions for Nepal are political. The farmers seem to have got the point.

Rubeena Mahato in Kailali

Read also:

Nepal's hunger solution, RUBEENA MAHATO in Kailali

1. Laxman karki
Yes Nepal can feed itself within a couple of years if  we be able to get irrigation facilities in every farm fields. It doesn't need big investment now only half of billion dollar investment in irrigation can bring remarkable reform in production of major food crops like Rice & can full the Nepal's food basket. Here we got to be careful like only green revolution can make Nepal a peaceful & prosperous country in long term, for doing so we got to do  a complete overhauling  of .Nepal's farming system. We have to stop distributions of  land in small pieces in the name of land reforms. This will decrease our productivity in significant level. Providing fertilizer as well as modern productive seeds  in time are also very important.  

2. kalu
Although irrigation systems can significantly change the crops production, it doesn't mean that will produce sufficient rice to ever growing human population. In fact, to be sustained in food we need to change our food habit from rice to any other cereals.It is not necessary to have rice two times a day where the yield of rice limited by irrigation. As we know that plenty of crop varieties are still exist which can thrive even in rain fed condition and have good yield potential. Thus, adjusting the food habit is only one long term solution to overcome food deficit in our country.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)