Nepal Today

Monday, April 1, 2013

TOURIST ARRIVAL FALLSS IN 2013 Kathmandu, 2 April Tourist arrivals dipped in the first three moths of 2013, figures released by TIA said. Arrivals in March also fell 2.1 percent to 62,442 compared to the same month the previous year largely because a slump in arrivals from India. nth last year. Indian arrivals dropped 37.3 percent while more Chinese visitors arrived. Arrivals from the northern neighboring state soared to 35.7 percent. Arrivals from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand also jumped 6.9 percent, 122.3 percent, 3 percent and 0.1 percent respetively. Arrivals from European grew 1.2 percent. .6 percent, and 8.3 percent respectively. Arrivals from USA increased 17 percent. Altogether 142,895 tourists visited Nepal until end of March--. a 3.8 percent drop. nnnn EARLY SOWING OF MAIZE BLAMED FOR RWPEATED CROP FAILURES Kathmandu, 2 April: The Regional Agriculture Directorate Central Development Region has said that early sowing of hybrid maize seed was the major reason behind the repeated crop failure in a number of Tarai districts, Sangan Prasai writes in The Kathmandu Post.. The directorate said that maize growers in Bara, Parsa, Rautahat and Sarlahi districts were found to be sowing the seeds a month earlier than the prescribed time. As a result, the plants did not have corn in their corncobs. Farmers have complained that their maize plants grow 4 m tall, but they have no kernels. Dilli Ram Sharma, regional director of the Central Region, said that farmers were found sowing the seeds from Oct 11-25 when seed producers have instructed that the seeds should be planted from Nov 16 onwards. "In India, manufacturers of maize hybrid seeds say that the seeds should be planted only after Nov 16, but Nepali traders import and sell these seeds a month earlier," Sharma said at a programme here on Monday. Moreover, the seed packet has also mentioned the application period. Last year, of the total 8,000 hectares of land where seeds were sowed, maize plants did not have corn in their corncobs on one-third of the area including Nijgadh, Ratanpuri, Bharatganj Singwal, Bhodaha, Phatepur and Dumarbana VDCs. They used X-92, Sandhya and Rajkumar brands of hybrid maize seeds supplied by an Indian company. After maize crops failed for two consecutive years, the directorate said that this year too the same problem has been seen in around 47 hectares so far in Dumarbana, Ratanpuri and Nijgadh in Bara district. As per agro technician findings, it takes 65 days for male flowers to make up the male inflorescence, called the tassel, after the seed is sown. And if the seed is sown too early, the tassel does not get enough sunshine to release pollen due to the winter. As a result, male inflorescences are dried out before the female inflorescence is pollinated by wind or insects. Sharma said that when farmers were asked why they sowed maize before its prescribed time, they had replied that Tarai farmers usually make three crop seasons—two maize planting seasons and one paddy planting season. And farmers would miss the paddy planting season if they did not sow maize a month earlier than the prescribed time. Meanwhile, seed traders said that they import hybrid maize seeds from India at the request of farmers. "If traders do not supply seeds, farmers go to neighbouring border towns and bring them themselves," Sharma said. "Besides, there is widespread use of hybrids in the Tarai in ways that is not recommended by the government." Presently, the registered maize hybrids are 10V10, Bisco 940 and P. 3522. "In a bid to stop illegal imports of hybrids, we have directed quarantine check posts in different areas to be extra vigilant," Sharma said. Meanwhile, the directorate has also ordered action against importers selling unregistered seeds and those importing and selling seeds before it's time, Sharma added. The cause of the corn crop failure had remained a major mystery in the last two years. The government had suspected bad genetically modified (GM) crops of damaging production. As hundreds of farmers were ruined financially, they launched protests by blocking roads and blockading government buildings last year. The failure of maize crops started in 2010, and around five districts in the Tarai suffered such a massive failure that the government was forced to provide compensation. The government distributed Rs 200 million to the affected farmers in Bara, Rautahat and Sarlahi districts as compensation last year. After the government introduced a Maize Mission Programme five years ago with a view to reducing maize import from India by increasing domestic production, farmers have been attracted towards maize farming. Nnnn GOVT., WORLD BANK DISCUSS IMPLEMENTING KALI GANDAKI Kathmandu, 2 April: The government and the World Bank are to hold negotiations for a soft loan worth US$ 27.26 million for the Kali Gandaki Rehabilitation Project. The funds will be spent on maintenance and rehabilitation of the project which is the largest operational hydropower plant in the country, The Kathmandu Post writes.. The power station at the 144 MW project has been facing problems related to floating debris and sediment at its headworks from the very beginning. The hydraulic performance of the headworks and desander has also been below par leading to unexpected damage to the turbines and other hydro mechanical parts resulting in frequent shutdowns for repair. This has caused losses in the overall generation from the project. The government said that it was strategically important to repair and maintain the largest power project to save it from collapsing and aggravating the already bad load-shedding situation in the country. Negotiations are set to begin after the World Bank agreed in principle to extend credit for the project. "The negotiations will finalise the terms and conditions for the loans and other details before the agreement is signed," said Madhu Marashini, chief of the International Cooperation Department of the Finance Ministry. According to him, the WB will lend the money at 1.25 percent interest and a 0.75 percent commitment charge and a 0.5 percent service charge. Rehabilitation work at the project is expected to be completed within the next four years while Nepal will have to repay the loan in the next 20 years. A sum of US$ 10 million was allocated under the World Bank-funded power development project which expired at the end of December 2012. However, the project was redesigned and extended with an additional aid commitment from the global lender. "The World Bank approved our request not to return the unspent money but reinvest it in Nepal in a repackaged project," said a ministry official. As per the new arrangement, most of the components of the power development projects were included in the repackaged project and a few other components such as Ramechhap Rural Electrification and Rehabilitation of Multi-Fuel Plants were added. Formerly, resources worth US$ 42.47 million had been allocated for different components of the Power Development Project which included the Hetauda-Bharatpur 220 MW transmission line, Hetauda-Bharatpur substation, Bharatpur-Bardaghat transmission line, support Nepal-India cross-border transmission line, Kali Gandaki Rehabilitation Project and institutional strengthening of the Nepal Electricity Authority. The credit was later cancelled. However, most of these components have been included in the repackaged project by merging them and adding a few components with additional commitments. The bank has pledged US$ 60 million for the redesigned project which is US$ 10 million less than what the government has asked, according to ministry official nnnn


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