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New Project to Tackle Food Crisis in Nepal
Source: southasia.oneworld.net
Source Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Nepal
Created: Apr 06, 2010

The country director of UN’s World Food Programme, Nepal, in an interview has highlighted issues such as drought, dependence on rainfall and increase in population as main reasons for food crisis in the country. The “Food for Work” programme is based on the needs of the community, he said.

Kathmandu: “Food crisis is the result of various other crises in Nepal,” said Country Director of United Nation World Food Programme (WFP) Richard F. Ragan in an exclusive interview with China's Xinhua news agency.

Nepal is facing food crisis due to a combination of factors/ Photo credit: Oneworld.net “Here, we have a collision of crisis in Nepal such as natural disaster including drought and deluge, increase in the population, dependence on rainfall for agriculture,” Ragan said.

He added that the low agriculture productions, global economic crisis, high rate of poverty among others are the major problems that collide leading to a severe food crisis.Ragan said that different parts of the country are facing a major food crisis, including hill or southern Terai regions, and other two regions in the country-mid-western and far-western-have met with the worst food crisis situation.

In the present context, the country is likely to face food scarcity due to the late start of Monsoon and unpredictable rainfall.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) has estimated that this year's national paddy and maize harvests have decreased by 11 and 4% respectively compare with last year.

Last year was a record summer crop with national production of paddy at 4.5 million tonnes. However, due to a winter drought the total annual cereal balance was 132,916 tonnes deficit in 2008/2009.

In August 2009, MoAc estimated that this fiscal year ending in mid-July, an edible cereal deficit will be at least 400,000 tonnes compared to the total requirement of 5.4 million tonnes.

Ragan said that people in the country spend three quarter of what they earn for food increasing the high risk of food insecurity.Moreover lack of food ruins health and people do not go for medical treatment because they cannot afford, plus they migrate for labor to different countries, Ragan said.

Ragan also added that 50% of children born in the crisis are victims of chronic malnutrition, which makes them physically and mentally deficient.

“Our goal is to create means and opportunity to end the cycle of hunger,” said Ragan, adding we use food as an entry point to attack problems around the household in Nepal.

Ragan informed about the WFP's project “Food for Work” where they are working as per the need of the community.

The project includes building irrigation, bringing asset as per the need, develop the cash crop and build a market to access them.

Replying to a query on how supportive is the Nepal government, Ragan said that the government has becoming more serious towards the issue and has begun to act more seriously.

“It is rare that any government provides money to any UN agency. Last year, the government had provided US$16 million and this year the amount is expected to be twice of the last year,” added Ragan.

The interest of the donor agency has increased and with the increased government interest to tackle the rising long term issues, with the hopes to bring an end the food crisis in the country.
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