Ramp up distribution mechanism for food, nutrition security: Study

Kathmandu, December 28

The country needs to ramp up its food distribution mechanism across the country to cope with the serious challenges in ensuring food and nutrition security. This was the conclusion of a joint study conducted by the Ministry of Agricultural Development, Central Bureau of Statistics that was unveiled today.

Though the overall production of food (in terms of cereal crops) at the national level was fairly high last fiscal, there were wide variations in consumption owing to disparity in income levels, lack of proper distribution mechanism and to lesser extent by geographical regions.

The government can narrow down the gap of food availability by establishing appropriate mechanisms to distribute food to the areas, which are under the risk of food insecurity, as per the report.

The country produced 5.3 million tonnes of cereal crops (based on the data of 2014-15), whereas the annual demand stands at around 5.2 million tonnes. However, it is suspected that considerable amount of cereal crops is being sent to the markets of India and Bangladesh because the government lacks formal data of food items being exported and Nepal has become a net food importer in the recent years.

“If the government manages proper distribution mechanism for the food produced in the country, the volume of food imports could be minimised and lower income groups will stand to benefit more,” says

the report.

The study has also revealed that the demand for food in Nepal has been growing in the recent years, fuelled considerably by inflow of remittances.

Analysing the availability of food, the study report has said that per person food availability stands at 2,922 kilocalorie (kcl) per day in the country. The standard dietary requirement is 2,200 kcl per person per day. However, there is disparity in food consumption by income levels, and also by geographical regions.

According to the draft report titled ‘Food and Nutrition Security in Nepal’, people in central development region spend 49 per cent of their income on food, on an average. However, the poorest 10 per cent population in this region spend 72 per cent of their income on food.

The report has said that the level of food energy intake and total expenditure are positive, but the source of calories obtained from different food (cereal versus non-cereal) is strongly associated with income levels.

As there is large disparity in aggregate food intake and consumption patterns by income levels, the report has also recommended boosting food production in the country. Extra productions itself could contribute to cater to the demand in areas where the poverty rate and food insecurity are higher.

Likewise, ongoing shifts in consumption pattern point towards possibility of demand for non-cereal food rising in future. Hence, the report has suggested prioritising and allocating resources for production programmes accordingly.