Nepal's wheat production is estimated to drop by 20.5 percent in the current fiscal year.
Wheat production forecast for 2015-16 is 1,570 metric tons, a 20.5 per cent decrease compared to the production level of 1,975 metric tons in 2014-15, according to CCAFS Regional Agricultural Forecasting Toolbox (CRAFT).
The first advance estimate of 2015-16 wheat production in Nepal, which has been conducted using CRAFT, has also forecast that the current fiscal year's figure is a 16 per cent decline from average production over the last five years.
The significant drop in production is attributed to an estimated five percent decrease in wheat cultivation area nationwide as compared to the 2014-15 season. "Wheat grown area decreased because of two main reasons – severe shortage of fuel for irrigation and land preparation, and limited availability and use of fertilizers – both of which were caused by the political crisis in the Tarai and restricted cross-border trade with India from September 2015 to February 2016," the study report says.
In addition, according to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, cumulative rainfall during this winter season – from November 2015 to January 2016 – was far below the 30-year average.
Official reports from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, however, are yet to be published. "Because of inadequate soil moisture due to delayed and poor rains and limited irrigation due to the shortage of fuel, it was assumed in the CRAFT model run that the irrigated area decreased by 25 per cent and wheat plantation was late by 10 days," the report further added.
The preliminary estimate, which will be revised with updated data as the season progresses, has been jointly produced by the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), World Food Programme (WFP), and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) as part of the Nepal Food Security Monitoring System (NeKSAP).
CRAFT incorporates a crop simulation model (DSSAT), weather and seasonal forecast module (CPT) and a GIS mapping module, and it provides the support for spatial input data, spatial crop simulations, integration of seasonal climate forecasts, spatial aggregation, probabilistic analysis of forecast uncertainty, and calibration of model predictions from historical agricultural statistics, analysis and visualization that increase the authenticity of the estimation and correctness of the forecast."The tool helps to provide advance information to farmers, extension agents and policy makers allowing them to manage within-season climate risks to agriculture," the report said, adding that the model has been used in Nepal for a pilot study and is being currently used in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India as well.