Kathmandu, April 7:

Nearly half of the 75 districts of Nepal will face an acute food shortage if the government does not act fast. At present, 37 districts are facing food shortage.

“We don’t have adequate funds to supply food in drought-hit areas,” said Nepal Food Corporation general manager Beni Bahadur Rawal. According to him, NFC has managed to supply only half the required quantity of rice till March-end.

So far, NFC has supplied 122,000 quintals of rice in shortage-hit districts. “Our main concern is the hill districts of the Far-Western region where there is acute shortage,” said Rawal. NFC is strapped for cash. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) had sanction Rs 310 million earlier this year for a food relief package of 110,000 quintals of rice. It managed the extra 12,000 quintals of rice from external loans. “We are asking MoF for additional 90,000 quintals relief package but it is not listening,” said Rawal adding that the National Planning Commission had already given permission for the new package.

Food shortage is deepening in the hill districts due to the winter drought. A study by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) reveals that there was 30 per cent drop in paddy yield and 80 per cent drop in winter crops yield, mainly wheat.

Last July, the government had declared drought-hit the hill districts in five zones — Mahakali, Seti, Bheri, Rapti and Karnali. Later, MoAC added seven Terai districts to the drought-hit areas as there was inadequate rain in winter.

Meanwhile, food supply to far-western hill districts has stopped since three days due to unavailability of aviation fuel. “Fuel shortage in Nepalgunj and Surkhet has affected the supply,” said Rawal. This situation will continue for a few days more because there different political parties have called bandhs till Friday.

The Far-Western hill districts had faced acute food shortage due to famine last year also. Many people lost their lives due to the food shortage and thousands were left malnourished. Food shortage has become the fate of Karnali zone and Bajhang, Bajura, Rukum, Rolpa districts since a decade.