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Rice Plantation in Nepal
The series of photos were shot in my farm, some two hundred and fifty miles west of Kathmandu.
Importance of Rice
Corn evolved in Africa, wheat in Central America, likewise rice evolved in South Asia, some say it was in Nepal. Anthropologists and botanists suggest that rice had originally evolved in the Indian sub-continent when the land mass was beginning to move towards the Tibetan plateau.
Rice is much touted food crop in many cultures and country. Emperor, marking its sanctity, plants rice sapling in Japan. Chinese use rice in religious rituals, a tradition carried since ancient times. In Nepal, inclusion of rice in two courses of meal is considered general well being of the people.
In Hindu religion, rice is prerequisite in every kind of ceremony, celebrations and rituals – in birth and death, in marriage and worshipping. Probably, of all species there is no more variation and diversity than in rice plant. It can be cultivated in the mountains or the swarms, can be as bigger as wheat or small like a cumin seed.
Tropical climate, water resources, quality of arable land makes it near to perfect for cultivating almost all kinds of food crops, and specifically rice crop, in Nepal.
Tilling EarthClick thumbnail to view full-size
Agriculture sector contributes more than 30 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and paddy accounts for more than 20 percent of total Agriculture GDP in Nepal. It covers around 50 percent of total cereal crop production and supplies around 40 percent of total calorie requirement for Nepalis. These figures show the importance of paddy crop to the national economy. That's why national product and annual growth rate is synchronized with agriculture sector, and more precisely the rice crop, which is the major food item.
When rice cultivation begins every monsoon, farmlands become playgrounds. Schools in the villages are closed for one month and children work in the farm making most of their vacation. Extra hands are always in demand, rice farming does not spare even the old people, there is no time to squander.
Despite the fact that paddy production has a sharp rise, Nepal is witnessing acute shortage of rice in every passing year. Thanks to the disparity in production volume and population rise. According to the United Nations Development Program, few decades ago Nepal was self sufficient in food production, but at present there is a severe food crisis. Until 1980, Nepal exported rice but now, it is rice importing country.
Lack of irrigation facility, encroachment of human settlements in arable land, lack of incentives on agriculture inputs, poor supply of chemical fertilizer, absence of subsidy are some problems faced in rice cultivation. More than that agriculture technique in Nepal has not improved in two thousand years. The same kind of wooden plough pulled by oxen and driven by human is used in farming. No surprise, why agrarian economy imports food.