Govt negligence may lead to food disaster

KATHMANDU: The country’s food security situation is deteriorating as each day and the negligent government is not showing even a remote sign of concern.

The country is not equipped to deal with any kind of natural disaster and the authorities are not bothered about the food security that people may need in case of a calamity of any sort. Approximately forty-one districts in the country feature in the food-grain deficit level, with an estimation of about 225,000 tonnes of deficit in the year 2008-2009, and is expected to increase further in this fiscal year due to the summer drought. “Access to grains and rise in price is most critical in remote parts of Nepal, price hike of essential food commodities are critically faced by the urban population as well,” says Dr Dev Bhakta Shakya, director at the Agro Enterprise Centre of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

According to Shakya, the state needs to establish a Data Bank of all food grains to monitor supply-demand and price situation. “A buffer stock needs to be created for essential commodities like cereal grains in order to stabilize market price as well as to meet emergency requirements,” he added.

“We are not prepared to deal with an emergency in case it occurs, being very earthquake prone we have stay prepared for a disaster at all times or else people with starve due to the unavailability of commodities, which will result to major increase in criminal activities as well,” Shakya said.

According to a report, the main concern will only be resolved when major aspects of the problematic system are brought to control. There is no effective enforcement of Food Law and regulations “Unethical practices need to be controlled and monitored, and the system of cartel in marketing and transportation of agricultural goods needs to be abolished,” Shakya said adding that provisions have to be made for exemption of tax and duties for distribution sectors to make easy the flow in system.

The food crunch, if not countered immediately, will result in a complete crisis and the government needs to act immediately in order to avoid and sustain in case of an emergency, he added.