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KATHMANDU, Dec 24
Nepali farmers seem attracted toward cash crops that provide higher income instead of traditional farming. The graph of crop shifting has been rising in the last decade, according to the National Census of Agriculture 2011/12. The area of food crops cultivation has shrunk by 9 percent while that for vegetable farming has risen by 41 percent during the period, according to the statistics made public by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Tuesday.
The area of paddy and wheat cultivation has shrunk by 6 percent, that of maize by 12 percent, millet 19, barley 35, and buckwheat 50. The area of beans cultivation has also dropped by 21 percent and that of mustard by 13. Food grains are currently cultivated in 3.12 million hectares of land across the country, while the area of land for cultivation of cash crops has expanded by 12 percent to 67,000 hectares, and that of vegetable farming to 84,000 hectares.
Secretary of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Yubaraj Bhusal commented that the data will play an important role in development of the economy based on agriculture. Speaking at the program to publish the data he also revealed that the draft of the concept paper for the 13th Plan is in the final stage of preparation. CBS Director General Uttam Raj Malla said that just the central data has been revealed now and the region wise, district wise and subject wise data and analysis will be revealed soon. 71 percent dependent on agriculture The National Census of Agriculture 2011/12 has showed that 71 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture.
The area of cultivation for potato, that provides immediate income, has expanded by 20 percent and that of spices by 7 percent. While the area for junar, lime and mango is shrinking, that for orange, banana and apple is expanding. “The trend of crop shifting in farmers is rising. The area of food grains is shrinking as the farmers are abandoning traditional grains and are attracted toward vegetables that provide immediate income,” Deputy Director General of CBS Suman Raj Aryal stated. He said the area of arable land is also falling as the land is being used for construction of houses, roads and other infrastructure.
CBS said that the data is based only on the farmers involved in informal farming and separate study is being done for those involved in commercial farming. There are 3.83 million farmer households in Nepal. It is 467,000 more than that of a decade ago. The number of farmers involved in vegetable farming alone has doubled to 1,931,000 from 977,000 in the period while the area of land used for vegetable cultivation has also risen to 84,000 hectares from 60,000 hectares.
Ilam leads the districts in terms of maximum use of land for vegetable farming at 4,393 hectares, followed by Jhapa (4,044 hectares), Chitwan (3,691 hectares), Dhading (3,386 hectares) and Morang (3,350 hectares). It has been 50 years since Nepal started census for agriculture. CBS stated that it has completed the census without donor assistance for the first time in this period. CBS revealed that 3,000 persons were deployed across 75 districts for the census that has cost Rs 130 million until now. It has assured to maintain secrecy of the data to safeguard the people’s rights to privacy while the data can also be purchased at a certain rate for the first time as per the concept of micro data sharing.
The last census had put it at 79 percent and the one a decade before that at 82 percent. The current data shows that agriculture is the main source of income for 83 percent of the families dependent on agriculture. A mere 40 percent of families involved in agriculture can earn their livelihood solely through farming while the rest also have to depend on other profession to earn a living. It shows that 22 percent of the families involved in agriculture take agricultural loans while 42 percent are in need of it.