Business & Economy

Crops worth $100 million damaged in unseasonal Nepal rains

Kathmandu, Oct 29 (EFE).- The unseasonal heavy rains in October have caused heavy damage to the paddy crop in Nepal, causing losses worth $100 million, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

The country suffered floods following torrential rains from Oct.17, killing more than 100 people and leaving settlements in several districts submerged in water.

Heavy rainfall is unusual in Nepal in October, which is traditionally outside the monsoon season.

The rains started in the western part of Nepal and then moved to the east on Oct.19, claiming lives, damaging roads, bridges, and other physical infrastructure in various districts.

“The crop losses are huge,” Ram Krishna Regmi, the chief statistician at the ministry, told EFE.

He said the authorities classified three categories of damage.

Farmers living on basins or the river banks have lost their entire crops, or the flood swept away their ready-to-harvest paddy.

The second category is in the low-lying southern plains where rainwater inundated the fields for more than two days, and seedlings sprouted from the harvested paddy left out to dry.

The third damage was due to the powerful winds that flattened standing paddy crops.

“Apart from the paddy, the losses of the stalks, which have a good monetary value, are also huge,” said Regmi.

“We have estimated that the paddy production may drop below 10 percent this year.”

The government on Thursday announced nearly $50 million payouts for farmers who lost their paddy crops to extreme weather, Prakash Kumar Sanjel, spokesperson for the ministry, told EFE.

“A guideline for the identification of farmers and relief distribution criteria will be formulated within five days,” he said.

The government will distribute the relief to farmers in the form of cash grants.

In its revised estimates of losses, the ministry said an estimated 424,113 tonnes of paddy on 111,609 hectares got destroyed in the flooding.

The economy is highly dependent on the rainy season.

Water from the skies is the lifeblood of the $35-billion economy. Nearly two-thirds of the farmlands are rain-fed.

The destruction of paddy is a massive setback for the economy.

Paddy is transplanted across most of Nepal in June and harvested in October.

Paddy alone contributes around 7 percent to the national gross domestic product and is the key income source for more than half of the Nepal population.

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