Jajarkot facing acute food shortage

Jajarkot, June 4

People from more than a dozen VDCs in Jajarkot have been battling with acute shortage of food due to the decline in production of local crops and the contractor’s apathy in delivering subsidised food items to the local depots.

VDCs of the district, including Daha, Garkhakot, Kortang, Majkot, Pajaru, Jhapra, Talegaun, Archhani, Salma, Sima, Thalarkot, Dasehra, Karkigaun, Bhagawati, Ragda, Lahan, Khagenkot and Rokayagaun, among others, have been grappling with acute shortage of food items. Locals from the areas said the prolonged drought had caused a sharp decline in the production of locally grown crops such as maize and wheat.

Meanwhile, four depots of Nepal Food Corporation set up at Ragda VDC’s Chaukha, Ghat of Nayakwada VDC, Ghogi of Pajaru VDC and Dasera of Dasera VDC are lying vacant as no staff nor rice grains have been supplied to the depots this year while the rice brought last year has already run out.

Prachandajung Shah, proprietor of Bikendra Construction and Bikendra Suppliers, who had signed the agreement to deliver rice grains to the district depots eight months ago, has yet to send food items to Pajaru and Dasera depots.

Amrita Nepali, of Pajaru VDC-4, lamented that her family members were feeding on pumpkin and potatoes for the past few days. “We have run out of rice grains as the harvest was minimal this year. Even the depot does not have rice in stock. We fear we might starve to death,” she said.

According to Amrita, the crops grown in the area is insufficient and can hardly feed them for six months. “Well-off families buy rice from the market and those who cannot afford flee to India and make their living,” Amrita shared.

The subsidised rate of rice is Rs 39 per kg at Dasera and Ghogi depots. However, it is sold at Rs 80 per kg in the local markets. Kishor Nepali, who works with an NGO, attributed the inflated price of food items in the district to the lack of motorable roads. “The traders are fleecing local residents taking advantage of the food crisis,” Nepali added.

Dharma Bahadur Basnet, chief of Nepal Food Corporation Jajarkot, admitted that they had failed to deliver rice grains to depots of the far flung areas. Basnet said despite repeated requests in writing, the contractors had failed to deliver rice grains.

This year, the government had allocated 1,000 quintals of rice to each of the four depots in the district and 42 quintals of rice to the district office of NFC.