Adequate rainfall coupled with the availability of quality fertilisers and improved seeds have contributed to the bumper harvest of summer crops, improving the overall situation of food balance in the country.
The total summer crop output has increased by 10.8 per cent, in which the production of paddy and maize has risen by 13.7 per cent and 5.4 per cent, respectively, according to a joint report prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MoAC), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Organisation (WFP).
The summer bumper harvest of 2011-12 has even set a record high production for paddy and maize at 5.07 million metric tonnes (MT) and 2.17 million MT, respectively.
Nepal had a total of 4.43 million MT of edible food surplus in the fiscal year 2010-11, states the amended Cereal Food Balance 2010-2011 report. Due to the timely monsoons, the total area planted for paddy has increased by 2.3 per cent, for millet by three per cent and for buckwheat by 0.3 per cent, as compared to last year. The area planted for maize, however, has declined by 3.8 per cent. "This bumper harvest of summer crops is mainly attributed to the overall favourable situation across the country - government support programmes and projects to enhance agriculture production combined with relatively timely availability of seeds and fertilisers, less damage of summer crops by floods and other natural hazards and an increase in the use of improved seeds, particularly in the Tarai belt, which is the main crop producing belt of the country," states the report.
Moreover, the report stated that the winter crop outlook so far is good across the country due to the timely rainfall, although the cold wave that occurred during the first half of December 2011 has partially affected potato and other vegetable crops in the Tarai belt.
January 2012 is expected to contribute to the normal production of winter crops, according to the report. The report holds that the good summer harvest and smooth operation of transportation are responsible for the stable food security situation.
However, the impact of the good harvest at the national level may not be translated into improved food security across the country and one needs to analyse the situation at the sub-regional and district levels. For instance, in the Mid-Western Mountain region, one of the most food insecure regions in Nepal, the production of paddy and maize has declined by 17.0 per cent and 22.1 per cent, respectively.
Districts in the Tarai belt are the major producers of paddy, accounting for some 73 per cent of the national paddy production. Districts with larger paddy production include Jhapa, Rupandehi, Morang, Bara, Kapilbastu and Kailali.