World food day-2006 : 38 districts reeling under food scarcity

Kathmandu, October 15:

Some 20 to 25 per cent of the Nepali population does not have adequate food to eat and this food scarcity is spread across 38 districts in the country, the director general of the Department of Agriculture said today.

“Given this year’s weather, that included drought and then floods, food scarcity is estimated to hit even harder,” said Dr Dip Bahadur Swanr. It is estimated that food grain production will fall by 300,000 metric tones this year.

Bhola Man Singh Basnet, the spokesperson of the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) said that the total food grain production in the country exceeds demand but hilly and mountain regions always face severe food scarcity. The total surplus food grain production in the fiscal year 2004-2005 was 213,000 metric tonnes, but there was a food grain deficit of 288,000 metric tonnes in the hilly region.

Basnet said poor purchasing power of the people in the hills and remoteness of the region from the major food grain production areas are to be blamed for the deficit.

He also said that the NARC is working to develop various technologies and varieties of crops to increase food grain productivity in the hills itself.

“The NARC has been developing newer technologies, recommending cropping intensity and prescribing early maturing varieties of food grains to cope with the pressure to feed the increasing population and the decreasing cultivating land.”

Against this national backdrop, the 26th World Food Day is being observed with the theme ‘Investing in Agriculture for Food Security.’

The DoA is organising a special function to mark the Day tomorrow, in which some 88 best farmers would be felicitated.

Winners of the school-level essay competition on the theme organised to mark the occasion will also be awarded.

Observing the World Food Day began in 1979 with an aim to heighten public awareness on the nature and dimensions of the world food problems and to develop further the sense of national and international cooperation and solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Nepal has been observing the World Food Day every year since 1981.