Money

Ministry says rainstorm destroyed crops and cattle valued at Rs507m

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Apr 12, 2019-

The gale-force winds that smashed into Bara and Parsa districts last fortnight wiped out Rs507 million worth of crops and cattle, a preliminary report released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said on Thursday.  

The report said that 10 municipalities in the two districts were laid waste by the 90-km-per-hour rainstorm that hit on March 31. The disaster claimed the lives of 28 people and rendered hundreds homeless in the two districts in the southern Tarai plains.

According to the report, crops on 1,096 hectares of land were completely destroyed and 1,728 hectares were partially damaged by the rainstorm in Bara. Crops on 339 hectares were completely destroyed and partially damaged on 1,388 hectares of land in Parsa.

The ministry report said that fruit orchards suffered the highest losses. According to the report, fruits on 289 hectares of land amounting to Rs297 million were wiped out by the rainstorm. Bara district alone suffered losses of Rs236 million. Wheat crops on 2,791 hectares of land were destroyed. The ministry estimated that the value of the wheat crops lost amounted to Rs109 million. Bara alone suffered wheat crop losses of Rs65 million.

According to the report, the rainstorm has partially and completely destroyed maize crops on 513 hectares of land valued at Rs48 million. Vegetable and lentil crops were also destroyed by the devastating storm. The report said that 10,494 head of cattle valued at Rs7.58 million were killed by the rainstorm in both districts. The report has recommended that the government support farmers with shallow tube wells, seeds, fertilisers and micro nutrients. It urged the provincial government to provide additional subsidies on crop insurance.

The ministry said that 1,058 houses in two districts were completely destroyed. As most of the farmers’ food stocks were buried when the walls of their houses collapsed, the report has recommended distributing metal bins and other containers to store grain. It said two metal bins with a capacity of two quintals each should be provided per family. An estimated 4,500 sets in Bara and 1,000 sets in Parsa district will be required, the report said.

Relief package distribution complicated

As storm victims wait for the government’s relief announcement, a ministry official said that the announcement and distribution of relief was complicated. There are now three levels of government—federal, state, and local—and unlike in the past, the federal government cannot announce and distribute relief packages to the farmers, said Under-Secretary Ganga Acharya.

“The law does not allow the ministry to announce and distribute relief packages or allocate a budget to provincial and local governments for relief distribution purposes,” he said. Many helping hands came forward immediately after the disaster, but the farmers need long-term support and livelihood programmes to deal with post-disaster stress, he added.

“However, we have prepared a plan. If the local and provincial governments cannot afford to issue relief packages, they can request the ministry’s support,” he said. “If they make a request, the ministry will table the proposal at the Cabinet to approve the required funding to distribute relief packages in the affected areas.” The relief packages include shallow tube wells, seeds, fertilisers and micro nutrients, among other facilities. “We are in a wait-and-see position,” said Acharya.

The disaster has occurred at a time when farmers were expecting a bumper wheat harvest this year.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has projected that Nepal’s wheat harvest could exceed 2 million tonnes this fiscal year and set a new record, largely due to good weather during the growing season in the winter. Wheat is the country’s third most common cereal crop after paddy and maize.

This year’s harvest is expected to record a 7 percent growth largely due to ‘good winter’ rainfall across the country. The losses in the two districts may force the government to revise its preliminary estimate.

Published: 12-04-2019 08:42

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