FAO warns of food deficit

FAO warns of food deficit

Following the devastating earthquake, Nepal may face severe food shortage as farmers are not in a position either to harvest the standing crop or plant the paddy by May end.

The quake struck when the farmers were harvesting wheat and corn and preparing the ground for planting the paddy at the onset of the south west monsoon. Farmers who miss the planting season, expected to start late May onwards, will be unable to harvest rice — the country’s staple food — again until late 2016.

This, together with likely losses of food stocks and wheat and maize harvests, would severely limit food supplies and incomes in the country, where around two-thirds of the people rely on agriculture for their livelihood, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Last week, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake – the country’s biggest in 80 years – shook Nepal, killing thousands while limiting access to food and leaving some 3.5 million in need of food assistance. The farm areas were the worst hit.

“My house was crushed to the ground and I lost my animals. How can I do the farming next month,” Brid Bahadur Majhi, a small farmer in the worst affected Sindhupalchok district told Deccan Herald. .

Before the earthquake, FAO estimated Nepal’s wheat production in 2015 at 1.8 million tonnes – five per cent below the last year’s record harvest.

But crop damage and farmer’s inability to harvest in earthquake-affected areas are likely to change this forecast. Moreover, disruption of planting operations for rice and maize may severely reduce the planted area for these crops in the most affected areas. Agriculturally productive districts in Tarai, however, were spared from the destruction.

“This devastating earthquake, which has affected more than 8 million people, will strike a blow to the country’s already fragile food security and nutrition situation,” Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC says in a statement.

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