Wheat harvest expected to increase 2.6pc

April 10, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 10th April 2017, Kathmandu

Nepal’s wheat harvest is expected to increase marginally by 2.6 percent to 1.78 million tonnes in fiscal 2016-17 after a double-digit slump in the previous year, according to a report produced by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

The advance estimate for wheat, which has been produced using the CCAFS Regional Agricultural Forecasting Toolbox (CRAFT), said that a water deficit had an impact on wheat growth this fiscal year too, followed by a severe winter drought in the last fiscal year.


The projected figure is a 4 percent decrease from the average production over the last five years (2011-12 to 2016-17). The forecast was made with a prediction uncertainty of plus-minus 11.5 percent, it said. Wheat is the third largest cereal crop in Nepal after rice and maize.


“The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology’s winter rainfall data for November 2016 to February 2017 shows just 26 percent of the normal (30-year average) level, and a water deficit is likely to have a negative impact on wheat growth and is thus likely to impact production this season too,” the report said. 


However, without any significant disruptions in the supply of fertilizers and other inputs, overall crop management practices were assumed to be favorable for wheat production, suggesting an increase in production compared to the drought affected 2015-16, the report said.

Wheat output plunged 12.1 percent to a six-year low of 1.73 million tonnes in the last fiscal year on account of winter drought, according to the Ministry of Agricultural Development. 

Moreover, the wheat acreage dropped due to a severe shortage of fuel for irrigation and land preparation and limited availability of chemical fertilizers caused by a political crisis in the Tarai and restricted cross-border trade from September 2015 to February 2016.The government is yet to unveil winter crop statistics. Dilaram Bhandari, director general of the Department of Agriculture, said wheat harvest figures would be produced next week. “It’s too early to comment. However, we think production will be better than expected.” 

Nepal recorded the largest paddy harvest in history this fiscal year due to an above-average monsoon. Paddy production jumped 21.66 percent to 5.23 million tonnes this year after two consecutive years of falling harvests triggered by drought. Based on the average price of Rs21.45 per kg set by the ministry, this year’s output is valued at Rs113 billion, excluding the value of straw and husk. Government officials said that the record harvest was expected to bring down the country’s rice import bill, and help the GDP to grow as the economy was strongly dependent on farm production.