Prolonged drought takes toll on crops

Bajura, May 7

Due to the prolonged drought, 60 to 80 per cent of winter crops were damaged in the far-western region in the current fiscal, leading to an imminent food crisis.

As per the data with the far-western regional agriculture development directorate, Rs 1.46 billion worth crops were destroyed due to the prolonged drought.

“As the drought this year has been severe, it has caused a huge damage to vegetable and crops in many districts,” said Pashupati Pokharel, acting chief at the directorate. He said crops cultivated in over 50,000 hectares of land were damaged.

An estimated 130,000 households in as many as 223 village development committees and a few municipalities in the region have been affected as a result.

As per the official data, Baitadi was hit the hardest with crops worth Rs 459.4 million damaged due to the prolonged drought. Similarly, crops worth Rs 233.25 million were damaged in Doti.

Similarly, Kanchanpur district suffered the least damage of around Rs 3.234 million.

“Earlier our produce would last at least for 3 months, but this year we’re totally dependent on the market,” said Hansha Kadayat, a farmer of Khaptad VDC, Achham.

While as many as 26 remote VDCs in Baitadi have been affected by the drought, in Bajura the number of village development committees affected is 11. “Food crisis is a common problem in Bajura but this year the drought has made matters worse,” said Bhumiraj Upadhyaya, technician at the district agriculture development office.

Tek Bahadur Shahi, a Bajura-based trader, said he had run out of food stock. “In the previous years, only a handful of people came to my shop. But this year I have already run out of my stock as a lot of people came to buy rice,” he said.

The region witnessed a scant rain yesterday breaking eight-month long dry spell. Farmers hope for a better harvest in the monsoon season.