Save our seeds and save rice: National Peasant day celebrated in Nepal

(Nepal, June, 30 2015) All Nepal Peasants’ Federation, the largest peasants’ organization in Nepal organized various programs including a paddy plantation program on the occasion of national peasants’/paddy day/Ashar 15(A day in Nepali calendar that falls on June 29/30). The program was devoted to all the peasants’ and their families victimized by earthquake and “Save our seeds and save rice” was the motto for this year. ANPFa Chairperson and deputy prime minister and home minister of Nepal, Hon. Bamdev Gautam inaugurated the paddy plantation program in Kathmandu and such programs were organized in more than 40 districts of Nepal including Sunsari, Morang, Kavre, Dhading, Rupendehi, Lalitpur.

In the program organized in Kathmandu, Hon. Gautam highlighted the role of ANPFa in professionalization of agriculture. “Farming should be a profession. We need to change the face of agriculture from subsistence to commercial,” He added. Minister for energy, Hon. Radha Gyawali was special guest of the program where ANPFa leadership including Sarada Prasad Subedi, D.B. Karki, Baburam Thapa were present. Balram Banskota deputy General Secretary of ANPFa, explained the importance of rice in the Asian societies. He said, “Rice is our culture. In every occasion whether it is a birth ceremony or death ritual even the marriage, rice is used. It is our staple food. We need to conserve rice to conserve our identity“.

The program was organized in Dharmasthali ward no. 15 of Kathmandu Districts. At least 500 peasants’ mostly young men and women farmers were participated in the paddy plantation program. The celebration of peasants day is important not only to bring joy to the face of farmers hard hit by quake forgetting their tragedies but also give them confidence and bring the life to the normal-youth peasant leader Pramesh Pokharel justified the rational of paddy seedling plantation program. ANPFa office secretary, D.B. Karki shared that farmers and peasants celebrated peasants day in at least 40 different districts of the country. At least 1000 farmers participated in the paddy seedling plantation program in Eastern Morang districts, ANPFa leader, Sabitra Regmi told us. Similary, more than 200 farmers celebrated the peasant festival singing paddy songs and dancing in the fields. Netra Poudel National committee member of ANPFa from Dhading district shared that it was an important event for the peasants to forget the loss due to quake.

All Nepal Peasant federation is celebrating National Peasants’ Day (Ashar 15) since more than a decade. It is celebrated in Nepal on the day of Ashar 15 in National Calendar by planting paddy seedling in the fields and eating beaten rice and curd (Dahi-Chiura). Ashar 15 is a landmark day for ANPFa and singing folk songs while planting rice is also an important part of the festival. The government of Nepal also organizes program where ministers and high ranking government officers also attend. Govt. of Nepal has considered Ashar 15 as National Paddy Day from 2004.

The observation of peasants’ day started with rice seed distribution program. Realizing the importance of seed in the time of crisis, ANPFa distributed more than 50 tons of local rice seed varieties to the farmers. Briefing about the seed distribution program, deputy general secretary of ANPFa Mr. Banskota explained that, ‘Farmers had not only lost their lives and property but also the seeds. If we were not able to distribute seeds on time to the farmers, there was the danger that farmers could not plant rice seedlings before monsoon and our local seeds may have displaced by hybrids and so called high yielding varieties‘.

Prior to this program, ANPFa with other farmers’ organizations arranged a meeting with Hon. Minister for Agriculture Development to discuss and demand special package of program to the farmers victimized by Quake. In the program ANPFa attracted the attention of government and ministry, on relief and other support to the farmers in this difficult time. ANPFa jointly with MoAD also organized an interaction program on June 24 with Ministry of Agriculture development (MoAD), Nepal on pre-budget discussion and peasants issues. In this occasion, ANPFa submitted a demand letter to the minister with few specific programs for the victims of Earthquake.

All Nepal Peasants’ Federation

Press and Publication Department