Dolakha faces acute food shortage

CHARIKOT: An unrelenting dry spell has resulted in an acute food shortage in Dolakha. To make matters worse the agricultural production this year is way below that in the last year.

According to Dolakha Agriculture Development Office, falling production and rising population may create an acute food crisis in the district. The district has a yearly demand of 41,448 metric tons of food stuff against the local production of 23,884 metric tons, the ADO states. The food deficit stands at 17,900 metric tonnes this year.

Potato yield dropped 5,500 metric tonnes this winter, amounting to 4,000 metric tonnes only.

"The fall in production is attributed to the long dry spell and excessive use of chemical fertilizer," Gyanendra Raj Adhikari, technical assistant at the office said. The statistics shows a person needs an estimated 200 kg of food annually.

The drought and population pressure caused the fertility of land, and consequently crop yield, to decline in the VDCs including Kalinchowk, Lamabagar, Khopachangu, Bigu, Alampu and Gaurishankar, the office said.

Land fertility could be increased if the use of the chemical fertilizers was discouraged by encouraging the farmers to use compost fertilisers, Adhikari said.

Paddy, millet, maize, potato and wheat are the major crops cultivated in the district. Though only 33,778 hectares of land is arable, farmers have been cultivating crops in over 21,000 hectares of land in the district.

However, the yield of vegetables has been increasing in the district. Though the annual demand for vegetables in the district stands at 23893 metric tons, the local production was over 36732 metric tons last year.