BAJURA: Fears of a severe food crisis has added to the woes of locals in several rural municipalities in remote outskirts of Bajura as they battle through the longest drought the region has witnessed in 41 years. The drought that has lasted for five years now has impelled farmers of four local levels of Bajura, two rural municipalities in Humla and Shreekot in Mugu, to abandon their farms and rely heavily on food imports in subsistence. "Stock of paddy and barley which we grew during years with good rain used to last for 9 months but now we have  not been able to plant or grow anything for lack of irrigation facility and a prolonged drought," according to Bagh Dal Malla, chair of Tajakot Rural Municipality. Farmers in Swamikartik, Jagannath, Himali and Budinanda rural municipalities have been hit hard by the drought as their fields, they say, have turned into a desert. "What were then paddy fields are now empty swathes where nothing has grown for the past five years," Himali Rural Municipality Chair Gobindra Bahadur Malla said. In the Wai Village of Malla's rural municipality, arable land locally called as Wai Jiulo of around 400 households is deserted and men from the village have abandoned the fields and left for India in a desperate search for work following the drought. "Although Karnali River, one of the major rivers of Nepal flows below us, we highlanders have nothing but only dreams of irrigating our fields with its water," local Ishwari Giri said. According to Budinanda Municipality's Agriculture Department Head Ghamanda Bharati, food production in the region already identified as food crisis prone area has plummeted by whopping margin in the recent years adding up to the woes of locals.   (Translated/Edited by Prahlad Rijal)