By Our Reporter
For an agrarian country like Nepal national rice day holds much importance. About 80 per cent people in Nepal are farmers and paddy has the biggest share in the GDP of the country. Of course, the GDP goes up if the paddy production increases and it drops when the paddy production falls.
Considering the importance of rice in the national economy the government has been marking Asar 15 as national rice day for the past few years. However, Agriculture Minister Haribol Gajurel this year made mockery of the 13th national rice day by planting rice seedlings in a flowerpot while marking the day. It was an insult to all farmers who are now busy transplanting paddy across the nations. Timely arrival of the monsoon rains this year has pleased the farmers but the way the Agriculture Minister, who belongs to the CPN-Maoist Centre, marked the rice day has hurt them.
Why did Minister Gajurel not reach the paddy field of the valley as his predecessors? The exact reason was not known. However, a few people guessed he chose to plant paddy seedlings in a flower pot fearing that the incident of last year’s national rice day might repeat.
Last year, then Agriculture Minister Hari Prasad Parajuli lost his post for embracing women while marking the national rice day at Mulpani of Kathmandu. This year too, the social sites were full of comments from early in the morning on the national rice day that where the minister was going to mark the national paddy filed. Obviously, the facebook users wanted to remind the public the suggestive acts of former Minister Parajuli at the paddy field. But Gajurel chose to remain at the ministry and planted paddy in a flowerpot.
Anyway, the act of minister showed that he did not want to mix up with the farmers. A Maoist leader should not have feared the farmers. A few people have even accused the Minister of not taking the national day seriously.
Indeed, it is a big irony that the agriculture minister of Nepal plants paddy in a vessel and an agrarian country like Nepal imports rice worth billions of rupees to feed its people.
Until 1980s Nepal used to export rice to Bangladesh and other countries. Then Nepal had Rice Export Company. But today Nepal imports rice worth billions of rupees every month. Recently, Nepal received rice in grant from Bangladesh, the country which used to buy rice from Nepal until 30 years ago.
Of course, production of rice has dropped significantly over the years. The farmers have no manpower to plant paddy as most youths of villages have reached the Gulf countries as migrant workers. There is also no irrigation facility and the farmers have to depend on monsoon rains to grow paddy. The government cannot supply fertilizers and seeds to the farmers in time. Above all, the consecutive governments have not been serious about increasing the farm products. Instead, they love to import foods from other countries so that they could enjoy a good commission money. The local sugar mills are the testimony to this. The ministers discourage the farmers to grow sugarcane by not fixing the prices of their products and preventing the sugar mills from buying the sugarcanes only to import the sugar and get the commission money.
Minister plants paddy in flowerpot!
By Our Reporter