The food security situation has deteriorated as compared to the previous quarter though the level of food insecurity was within a range of seasonal deterioration that is typically observed during the lean season, according to a report.
According to the NeKSAP District Food Security Network (DFSN), out of the total of 686 village development committees (VDCs) in the mid and far western hill and mountain districts, some 221 VDCs — representing the area of some 30 per cent of the population — were classified as the Phase-2 'moderately food insecure'.
The situation was similar last year, with four per cent decline in terms of the number of moderately food insecure VDCs compared to the same cycle a fiscal year ago in July-September 2011.
Limited availability and access to food were the main causes behind the moderate food insecurity in those VDCs, it said, adding that the population experienced a seasonal deterioration of food security like availability and access to food became limited due to the monsoon and political instability like partial budget, household food stock from the winter harvest was reportedly low, food supply was disrupted due to bad road conditions contributing to the price hike of edible commodities, and wage employment opportunities were curtailed due to limited availability of development activities.
For the rest of the area, the food security situation was reportedly stable, due to a good winter harvest that took place during April-June, cash income from sales of cash crops, non-timber forest products like Yarchagumba (Cordyceps sinensis), wage labour and remittance.
In last fiscal year 2011-12, winter crop production of wheat and barley was estimated at 1.85 million metric tonnes (MT) and 0.35 million MT, an increase by 5.7 per cent and 14.9 per cent, respectively, as compared to a year ago.
In addition, food assistance from Nepal Food Corporation (NFC), World Food Programme (WFP) and China also contributed to mitigating a further deterioration of the food security situation, the report added.
A late and weak start to the monsoon this year has affected paddy plantation timing as well as the total area planted, resulting in a decline in production and low yield in parts of the eastern Tarai.
According to the latest production estimates released by the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the 2012-13 summer crop production of paddy, maize, and millet has declined by 11.3 per cent, 8.3 per cent and three per cent, respectively, compared to a fiscal year ago.A joint Ministry of Agriculture Development, World Food Programme and FAO crop verification mission is currently ongoing, which is expected to provide a further update on production as well as the food security situation.