Drought has resulted in decreased national crop production in wheat and barley by 14.5 per cent and 17.3 per cent respectively. Crop losses in many hill and mountain districts of the Mid-western and Far-western regions were more than 50 per cent, said a report.
It also revealed that crop losses ranged from about 10 per cent in the Tarai to more than 50 per cent in some of the mountain districts of the Mid-western and Far-western regions. Such heavy crop losses have caused severe food insecurity in many communities in those region, particularly in areas where wheat and barley are food staples.
"More than a year of sustained high food prices has already stretched household resources to breaking point," said the World Food Programme. Limited income opportunities and lack of access to food due to frequent supply constraints have left many drought-affected households with few coping strategies to respond to this shock.
Nepal experienced one of its driest winters in 2008-09 resulting in significantly reduced winter crop yields, mainly wheat and barley, according to the report.In early April 2009, the programme issued an Emergency Alert based upon its field surveillance system, warning that some two million people might be pushed towards food insecurity because of drought. This was followed by a Crop and Food Security Assessment jointly carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), WFP and FAO which estimated that in addition to current WFP programming an extra 700,000 people are in urgent need of immediate assistance.
Although crop production across the country was affected by drought, the magnitude of crop losses and resulting impact on food security vary greatly between different geographic regions of the country. The most affected areas are where wheat and barley play an important role in household food security -- essentially in the hills and mountains of the Mid-western and Far-western development regions. Severe winter crop losses are exacerbating an already precarious food security situation caused by several years of poor crop harvests, poverty, sustained high food prices and frequent market supply shortages.