Nepal likely to face risk of food crisis this year

Published On: June 1, 2023 12:00 PM NPT By: Basanta Dhungana

CHITWAN, June 1: Experts have warned that the risk of food crisis will increase in Nepal this year. They claim that agricultural production will decrease due to less than average rainfall predicted this year.

“There was no rainfall in winter. The upcoming monsoon is also expected to have less rainfall. When there is a long drought, the production of agricultural products is likely to decrease,” said Dr. Krishna Prasad Paudel, an agricultural Policy Analyst. "Nepal is likely to face a severe food crisis."

Poudel said that food shortage is likely to be experienced worldwide this year. “Climate change is affecting the world. After 42 years, we are likely to experience a prolonged drought this year. Its impact can be felt in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Poudel said that countries like Nepal, which imports food items, are facing problems. He said that there will be a food crisis for common people, who have no income and jobs, due to the rise in prices in the world this year.

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) has estimated that there will be 35 to 55 percent less rain than average this year. The DHM has predicted the rainfall pattern based on the ratio of rainfall likely from June 1 to September 30. In the notice released on May 4, it is mentioned that there is a possibility of 45 to 55 percent less rainfall in Sudurpaschim, Karnali, Gandaki, some parts of Lumbini provinces and the southern part of Koshi province and 35 to 45 percent in other parts of the country. 

Meteorologist Indira Kandel said that the average rainfall of Nepal during this period is 1,700 milliliters.

Uddhav Adhikari, coordinator of Agriculture Campaign for Food, said that it is time for the government to think about the impact of drought in Nepal. “Nepal is not self-sufficient in food. Billions of rupees worth of food is imported every year. Now there is a food crisis in the world," he said. "The government should prepare for it from now."

In the fiscal year 2021/22, Nepal imported food worth Rs 50.53 billion. It is estimated that there will be a decrease in the production of agricultural yields such as wheat, rice, and corn. This also signs towards how there will be a situation where food will have to be imported more than before.

According to the National Census conducted in 2021, 57.3 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture. Although there is a decrease of 8.3 percent compared to the last count, agriculture is gradually becoming dependent. At present, remittances have fueled the country's economy. Especially, as the ongoing war between the two major countries of Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine, shrinks the supply chain, it seems that there will be a food crisis in Nepal. As these countries are major exporters of food, petroleum products and chemical fertilizers, this war has exacerbated the food crisis and price hikes.

Experts had already warned the government about food shortages, but the agricultural budget is shrinking. For the next year, Rs 55.89 billion have been allocated for agriculture. Of that, around 30 billion is earmarked for chemical fertilizers. 

It is said that significant work cannot be done with the remaining amount. “Last year, a Rs 12 billion budget was allocated for chemical fertilizers. India has banned wheat exports this year citing drought and war in Ukraine which has disrupted the global supply chain. In such a situation, the government should focus on increasing local production,” Adhikari said.


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