ice, the most important crop inNepal, contributes approximate-ly one-ourth o gross domesticproduct and almost hal o the calorierequirements o its people, accordingto the Nepal Agricultural ResearchCouncil. Rice is cultivated on 1.56 mil-lion hectares in Nepal and over 70% isgrown in the oothills and in the Terairegion. More than 75% percent o itsworking population is engaged in ricearming or at least 6 months o theyear. Thus, the development o its ricesector is key to Nepal’s fght againsthunger and poverty.
A challenging land to till
“But only two-thirds o the nation’sentire irrigation network is ully op-erational during the monsoon seasonand only a little more than one-fth othe land is irrigated year-round,” saidDr. Stephan Haeele, a scientist at IRRI.This makes armers in rained areas,around 79% o the total rice area inNepal, highly vulnerable to drought.”The lack o assured irrigation acil-ities is the most important problem orrice production, according to a studyconducted by IRRI scholar Bishnu BilasAdhikari
on crop management prac-tices or rice in the hilly Lamjung andTanahu districts o the Western De-velopment Region o Nepal in 2011.In these districts, only about 59% othe armers are sel-sufcient in riceor the whole year. O the 41% ood-insufcient armers, about 36% wereable to produce enough rice or morethan 10 months, and the remaining5% produced rice or only 6 months.When drought aected Nepal in2009, Mr. Adhikari also investigatedmanagement options that could helparmers minimize the negative eecto drought on yield and reduce theso-called “yield gap” in nondroughtyears.Management treatments suchas a lower seedling density and olderseedling age gave comparativelyhigher yields, and these eects wereeven more pronounced during the dryseason o 2009.
Seeds of life
Although rice is a staple ood, thesupply o good seeds in Nepal is lim-ited. “The availability o good-qualityseeds means ood security,” said Da-vid Johnson, IRRI scientist and coordi-nator o the Consortium or Unavor-able Rice Environments (CURE). “Noseeds, no harvest. This is especiallytrue or communities aected by ca-lamities.”In 2010, under the auspices oCURE, partners rom a previous re-
IRRI scholar at Sam Higginboom Instute of Agriculture, Technology, and Sciences, Allahabad,India.
he rough, formidable terrain of Nepal has hindered the introduc
tion of modern agricultural technology, particularly in rice produc
tion, resulting in minimal gains for subsistence farmers. IRRI and its
partners are helping improve the productivity of these fragmented plotsthrough better rice varieties and nutrient management practices.
Tradition and innovation.
Farmers in the hills of Nepal need new technologies to increase the pro-ductivity of the traditional farming systems that maintain diversity and ensure sustainability of ricefarming.
J o e I b a b a o ( 4 )
Annual Report 2011