KATHMANDU, OCT 03 -
A portion of the standing paddy crop in Bhaktapur has been destroyed by “neck blast” and “bacterial leaf blight” diseases. According to a preliminary finding, paddy on 361 hectares out of the 4,252 hectares of rice fields in the district has been lost.
The infection has been detected in 16 village development committees (VDCs). Experts said crop losses could amount to 20,000 tonnes worth Rs 80 million at current prices.
According to the finding, farmers had planted a hybrid paddy variety named DY 69 which was recommended for the Tarai and the Inner Tarai.
DY 69 is a Chinese hybrid variety registered and recommended by the Seed Quality Control Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) in 2010.
On Sept 17, the MoAD formed a seven-member committee to investigate the crop failure in the district and prepare a report and recommend further action.
The finding, which is yet to be officially confirmed, has indicated that the crop was not supported by varietals performance, or it did not adapt properly with the climate. “Private companies have been supplying the seeds to farmers in Bhaktapur for the last three years,” said a committee member.
Sources said that this rice variety had a high productivity of 9.52 tonnes per hectare which attracted farmers to plant it. The crop matures in 125 days.
The committee has also been asked to find out the actual crop losses based on which the government plans to compensate the farmers. The committee has asked for another three weeks to finish the report. It had originally been given 15 days to do it. As per the initial report, only 27 percent of the bran contained kernels. The paddy crop was struck by the disease 30 days before it was to ripen.
Meanwhile, a number of agro scientists have assumed that the problem might have occurred due to increased frequency of growing the hybrid variety. Ideally, the seed replacement rate is 25 percent for self-pollinated crops, 33 percent for cross-pollinated crops and 100 percent for hybrid varieties.
A similar disaster struck the maize crop in five districts in the Tarai in 2010 and 2012. Last year, one-third of the standing maize crop on 8,000 hectares of farmland did not have corn in their corncobs. This happened in Nijgadh, Ratanpuri, Bharatganj Singwal, Bhodaha, Phatepur and Dumarbana VDCs.
Government studies have shown that early sowing of hybrid maize seeds was the major reason behind the repeated crop failures. According to the report, the secondary reason was increased frequency of applying the hybrid variety.
The report had pointed out that there was widespread use of hybrids in the Tarai in ways not recommended by the government.
Neck blast, also called neck rot or rotten neck, is caused by infection of the neck node by the fungus Pyricularia oryzae. It causes severe yield loss.
Likewise, bacterial blight of rice has high epidemic potential and is destructive to high-yielding cultivars in both temperate and tropical regions especially in Asia.
It can destroy up to 80 percent of a crop if the disease develops early. Even if it develops late, it can severely diminish the quality and yield of the grain.
Officials at the Seed Quality Control Centre said that although these two diseases were common in Nepal, they have not been reported in other parts of the country.
Posted on: 2013-10-04 09:23