ASIA – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the government of Nepal have signed a collaborative five-year agreement that seeks to achieve rice sustainability while ensuring food security and nutrition.

The project aims at increasing grain yield build technical skills and capabilities, and promote a more market-driven seed system for climate resilient rice varieties.

The deal also would reduce Nepal’s rice imports as rice by far is the most important crop in the country, also the crop provides 50% of the calorie requirements supplied by cereals.

In addition to promoting improved yield, climate resilience and healthier rice varieties, product development, branding, it also works on mechanization and post-harvest technologies while enhancing profitability of smallholder farms.

It also enhances value chain development; strengthen capacity; and improve national rice policy environment and rice value chains.

“This work plan is fully aligned with Nepal government plans as we strive to double the rice productivity in next five years,” said Honourable Minister for Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management, and Cooperatives (MoALMC), Chakrapani Khanal, chief guest of the event.

“The themes and integrated projects set out in the work plan will directly contribute to achieving the targets set out by Nepal.

Increased rice production means that the country no longer has to depend on imports, as it is consuming a significant portion of our national budget that could be allocated to other priority objectives.”

According to the IRRI, rice provides 53% of cereal consumption and 30% of protein intake for 30 million Nepalese; contributes to 21% of the country’s Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) and 7% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and rural employment.

The country has however resolved to rice importation due to a number of challenges including extreme climatic conditions, underutilization of rice science technologies and innovations.

IRRI stated that Nepal’s import of rice has increased by more than 40% in the first trimester of fiscal year 2017-18.

“We believe there is a significant opportunity to work with the Nepalese government to improve the efficiency of the national rice sector and achieve their goal of increased productivity,” Morell said.

“We are pleased to be able to leverage our strong portfolio of rice varietal research, agriculture innovations, and farming best practices to strengthen Nepal’s capacity to increase productivity and ultimately reach rice self-sufficiency.”