Higher rice prices put crunch on Humla folks

BAJURA: Remote areas of Humla district, inaccessible except by walking are reeling under critical shortage of rice grains. The lack of rice grains at the Srinagar-based Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) depot has forced locals to purchase from the depot at Kolti Bazar in Bajura district.

All three NFC depots in Humla district were closed after they became empty of rice grains about two months ago.

The depots became empty a month ago after distributing rice grains among the people of each ward in one day turn in the district, according to the Srinagar-based NFC depot chief Khemraj Kafle. Subsequently, the staffers closed the depots to avoid the pressure from general public, he said.

The annual quota on rice for Humla district was not clear in the current fiscal year 2017/18, NFC depot chief Kafle said.

Although some local grocers have been selling rice in the district, the price is unaffordable for many people, local Amar Nepali of Mahila in Humala district said.  He said, the rice that costs Rs 4,000 per quintal in Kolti is being sold at the cost of Rs 11,000 per quintal in remote areas. Prior to this, parboiled rice were available at the Srinagar-based NFC depot at the cost of Rs 3,500 per quintal, he informed.

Adanchuli Rural Municipality Vice Chair Saumati Rawal said she visited the Humla Chief District Officer (CDO) Laxmi Baskota in Simikot and urged him to make rice available. The CDO said it was not possible to make rice available as there was none to take his complaint.

Usually, locals of remote areas climb down to Bajura to collect food grains in between mid-November to mid-December, but this year they are seen thronging the way from Kawadi to Kolti with flocks of sheep laden with food items now.

Earlier, on September 24, 34-year-old Tej Bahadur Budha of Srinagar in Adanchuli Rural Municipality was buried in a landslide. He along with his 15 sheep died in the landslide while he was on a trip to purchase food items from Bajura.