Monday, June 25, 2012

Some hilly districts face high food insecurity

Across the mid and far western hill and mountain districts, the population suffering from food insecurity is estimated to be around 0.49 million in the first quarter of the year 2012.
"The number has increased compared to the previous quarter though it is slightly less than the same time last year," according to the Nepal Food Security report published by Ministry of Agriculture Development-Food Security Monitoring Unit and World Food Programme (WFP).
In Darchula, five village development committees — Dhaulakot, Sitola, Guljar, Dhuligada and Ranisikhar — are classified as 'highly food insecure' and a total of 11,223 people in those VDCs are facing the high level of food insecurity also mainly due to a low summer crop production of maize and paddy.
"These households are coping with consuming less preferred food, heavy borrowing of food/cash and selling of small livestock," the report said, attributing the scarcity to a series of bandhs called by various political parties and ethnic organisations across the country during the period forcing the markets to close and businesses, industries shut down putting pressure on supply side.
A day’s Bandh is said to cost billions to the national economy affecting people’s livelihoods and food security and the poorest are often the worst hit, it added.
Closed markets limit availability of food at household level and industries and businesses shutdown will result in no wage of the day for wage labours coupled with higher food prices due to limited supply, hindering those households with low purchasing power from accessing food. Poor households spend more than seventy per cent of consumption on food and they mostly rely on daily wages as the income source.
The situation is expected to improve during the next cycle due to the upcoming winter crop harvest and the starting of the Yarchagumba collection in May-June.
Winter crops of wheat and barley are harvested across the country between April and June, according to the Ministry of Agriculture Development that projected wheat and barley production to be 1.85 million metric tonne (MT) and 0.035 million MT — an increase by 5.7 per cent and 14.9 per cent respectively compared to last year.
It is worth noting that the wheat production has broken the last year’s national record of 1.75 million MT. The fiscal year 2011-12 edible cereal balance has set a record high 886,000 MT surplus, equivalent to 17.2 per cent of the total requirement.
According to the report from the District Food Security Networks in the 17 mid and far west hills and mountain districts, out of the total of 786 VDCs and municipalities, some 30 per cent are classified as food insecure, five VDCs in Darchula are 'highly food insecure, some 233 VDCs (29.6 per cent) in Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Dolpa, Achham, Bajura, Doti, Baitadi, Bajhang, Darchula, Dailekh, Jajarkot and Rukum are 'moderately food insecure'.

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