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Heavy rains catch paddy farmers off-guard

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Heavy rains catch paddy farmers off-guard

Although the monsoon usually recedes in the final week of September, it left Nepal only in the first week of October this year

Paddy farmers across the country have borne huge losses due to unexpected heavy rains immediately after the Dashain festival.

Although the monsoon usually recedes in the final week of September, it left Nepal only in the first week of October this year. Similarly, the westerly winds, which start to dominate the weather system, mostly in western Nepal from around November, set in early this year.

Thousands of farmers in Dang have had to face huge losses due to the rains. “The farmers had already harvested the paddy and were drying it in the sun when the unexpected rainfall started,” says Shyam Lal Chaudhary, a resident of Tulsipur Sub-metropolitan City in Dang.

A total of 39,000 hectares of land was being used for paddy cultivation in Dang this year. Officials hoped that production would increase this year after a fair amount of rainfall during the monsoon season.

“We are seeing rains across the country due to the interaction of the monsoon’s easterly winds and the westerly winds that come into Nepal during the winter,” says Meteorologist Indira Kandel. She says, normally, Nepal would experience dry conditions during the period as both the easterly and westerly winds are weak over Nepali skies and they seldom interact. However, this year, the late withdrawal of the monsoon and the early arrival of westerly winds led the two systems to interact and cause unexpected rainfall, she adds.

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Paddy output is also expected to decline this year in Tanahun, where the rainfall adversely affected paddy production. “While the paddy being dried in the sun was drenched in the rain. Land on which the crop was being cultivated has been flooded,” says Rajendra Paudel, a resident of Byas Municipality-11.

The story of farmers in Shuklagandaki Municipality is also similar. The town’s head of agriculture Navraj Pandit says drenched harvest produces less grains even when dried in the sun. “We expect output to decline by around 20-25 percent this year,” says Kul Prasad Tiwari, head of Agriculture Knowledge Center, Tanahun.

Paddy farmers in other regions of the country, especially in the Tarai, are also reeling under the same problem. Although a nationwide assessment is yet to be carried out, officials expect national paddy output to fall this year due to the untimely rains.

According to meteorologist Kandel, the system has been moving west and causing rainfall in Nepal’s far-west region. On Monday, October 18, Dadeldhura received 168.8 mm of rain, Dipayal 95.3, and Dhangadhi 80. Alarms have been raised across the region after the Mahakali, a transboundary river between Nepal and India, was flooded due to heavy rains in its catchment area.