Food insecurity likely to get more acute

Kathmandu, March 2:

The winter harvest this time is expected to be poor due to lack of adequate rainfall. The outlook for the winter crop production is worrisome making the people more vulnerable to food insecurity, said a rapid survey by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Other factors affecting food security include remoteness, high food prices and limited income opportunities, posing a high risk of increased food insecurity beginning in April. Food insecurity will become particularly critical from June onwards as Nepal moves

into its traditional lean season. Areas of high concern are those where the summer crop production was impaired and prospects for the winter crop production are poor.

According to the survey, more than 70 per cent of a total 247 surveyed farmers in 20 districts said that they expected a poor to very poor winter crop production due to lack of rainfall.

Wheat is the main winter crop — followed by barley — cultivated across the country while the production of barley is mainly concentrated in the hill and mountainous areas. Moreover, due to almost complete absence of rainfall during the winter season, the outlook for the wheat and barley harvest is bleak, particularly in the rain-fed areas of the Far-west and Mid-west and in several districts of the central hills.

During summer, paddy, maize, and millet are the main cereal crops cultivated in the country. Paddy is grown predominantly in the Terai while maize and millet are cultivated mostly in the hill and mountainous areas. Paddy is the most important cereal crop in Nepal. It makes up more than 50 per cent of total national cereal crop production. Maize is the second most important cereal crop in Nepal, contributing to approximately 29 per cent of total national cereal production.

However, the summer crop production was relatively good in the majority of the central and eastern districts. “This year’s national production was above last year’s. The preliminary estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) suggests that the production of paddy, maize, and millet increased by 5.22 per cent, 2.77 per cent, and 0.54 per cent respectively, in comparison to last year,” said the report.