Heavy winter rains hit lentil output in Banke

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BANKE, APR 08 – Heavy winter rains during the flowering period have hit lentil output. The production of the small beans is expected to drop 35-40 percent this year as downpours during the flowering time have damaged the standing crops, the District Agricultural Development Office said.

Banke is one of the major lentil producing districts in the country. According to the office, two heavy rains in mid-February have affected the lentil flowers. Nepal grows nearly 5 percent of the world’s lentils. Masoor lentil, with brown skin and orange grain, is the common variety grown in Nepal.

Farmers in the district which had been affected by floods during the last monsoon are likely to face a double whammy this year.

Natural disasters in August last year had destroyed crops, mainly standing paddy, on 35,000 hectares in 17 districts, including Bankedistrict.

Luhari Chaudhary of Binauna-4 is worried to see his lentil production dropping this season. Chaudhary, whose standing paddy on one and a half bighas of land was swept away by floods last August, has not received the compensation promised by the government.

“After the floods, it had been difficult to feed my family and eke out a living, and now, low output has compounded our woes,” said Chaudhary.

Another farmer Arun Tharu of Baijapur-9 had sowed lentils on one bigha of land. Tharu, who had produced 7 quintals of lentils during the last season, said this year’s harvest would barely amount to a quintal.

According to the District Agriculture Office, Banke district produced 9,557 tonnes of lentils on 11,515 hectares of land in the last fiscal year. “However, this year we expect the output to plunge nearly half to 6,799 tonnes,” said Rajendra Pradhan, chief of the office.

Nepal comes sixth among the world’s largest producers of lentils. In 2012, Nepal produced 208,201 tonnes of lentils, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Bangladesh is the largest buyer of Nepali lentils followed by India, Singapore, the UAE and Bahrain.

In 2008-09, Nepal made a record high lentil export of 56,767 tonnes worth Rs5.66 billion. Lentils are among Nepal’s top 10 export commodities.

According to the statistics, lentil prices rose to Rs121 per kg in 2012-13 from Rs77 per kg in 2011-12. Nepal exported lentils worth Rs3 billion in the last fiscal year.

More than 90 percent of the world’s lentils are grown in the region because of its favourable climatic and soil conditions.