In the recent update on Nepal’s paddy production, the country has recorded the highest paddy production of 5.6 million tons this fiscal year 2018-19.
However, Nepal’s rice import continues to be steadily on the rise, despite bumper paddy production throughout the last three years.
The country imported rice worth NPR 278 million within the first 10 months of the current fiscal compared to NPR 241 in FY 2017-18. Similarly, in 2016-17 Nepal’s rice imports were worth NPR 202 million.
According to Nepal Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) Ministry, changing habits of consumers were responsible for the increasing rice imports in the country. Most Nepalis prefer white rice or refined rice imported from India.
Despite the country’s ability to meet the rising demand, consumers’ varying taste have forced Nepal to import rice said MoALD.
According to MoALD, Nepal’s current market demand for rice stands at around 4 million tons at the moment and its local production meets only close to 3.4 million tons.
This current fiscal 2018-19, Nepal registered a paddy/rice increase by 9.8 percent compared to 5.1 million tons in the previous fiscal.
Similarly, the country’s paddy productivity reached 3.8 tons per hectare in the current fiscal, an increase of 8.6 percent compared to FY 2017-18.
The International Rice Research Institute – Nepal’s (IRRI-Nepal) five-year work plan along with a few other places and programs are responsible for the success of Nepal’s increased paddy productivity, said MoALD Spokesperson Tej Bahadur Subedi.
However, increased productivity and production have not been able to override Nepal’s increasing rice imports.
This is a matter of concern as rice contributes to 20 percent of Nepal’s agriculture sector, which has a 27 percent in Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Meanwhile on June 30, 2019, Nepal marked the beginning of the crop plantation season with Ropain – the rice planting festival.