Food crisis in the offing

Kathmandu, March 24:

The nation is staring at an acute food shortage. The adverse impact of global climate change has translated into long spells of drought-like situation.

However, the Maoist-led government, true to its wont, has been completely caught unawares of the imminent crisis.

Figures available with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) suggest that lack of rainfall for the last five months has led to a 60 per cent drop in yield of winter crops as compared to last year. “Food scarcity is likely to hit hard soon,” said Dr Hari Dahal, spokesperson, MoAC.

The yield of wheat has fallen sharply. The mountainous districts are bearing a bulk of the brunt. According to Dahal, the ministry is busy compiling reports from various far-flung districts. Preliminary data paint a gloomy picture.

Though the Tarai is known as the food basket of Nepal, the agricultural produce has steadily fallen in the southern plains in recent times. MoAC report reveals that Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlaihi and Kailali have all become food-deficit districts. Chitwan and Nawalparasi are likely to follow suit.

“The crisis is likely to snowball since the mountainous districts’ yield is way below the subsistence level. For instance, it is time to cultivate maize and other summer crops. But, the farmers are at their wits end due to lack to adequate rainfall,” added Dahal.

MoAC plans to launch a three-year campaign to tackle the crisis. The drive aims to increase the yield over a period of time. However, the programme has hit a roadblock since there is a lack of coordination among the state organs.