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Fri, April 12, 2024

FOOD INSECURITY ON THE RISE: WAKE UP CALL FOR NEPAL

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  • 17.8% of the population or 5.21 million people do not have adequate food in the country

Food insecurity in Nepal has been linked to the country’s vulnerability to natural calamities like drought, poor governance, earthquakes, floods, and landslides, as well as its susceptibility to price fluctuations, civil turmoil, disease, and inadequate infrastructure. In Nepal, 4.6 million people experience food insecurity, with 20% of households experiencing mild, 22% moderate, and 10% severe food insecurity. The Terai region and mostly western Nepal appear to be more disaster-prone and food insecure prone. 

The Global Food Policy Report-2023 by the International Food Policy Research Institute reveals a worrisome situation of food insecurity and undernourishment in South Asia, including Nepal. Statistics presented in the report are alarming. Between 2019 and 2021, Nepal experienced about 13% food insecurity of which over 10% was classified as severe food insecurity from 2017 to 2019. These numbers should demand the government’s immediate attention. The report highlights that disruptions in the food supply chain and unmanaged migrations are worsening the food security situation. Additionally, climate change poses a significant threat to agricultural production in Nepal with changing weather patterns and rising temperatures putting immense pressure on food systems, rural livelihoods and ecosystems. Agricultural productivity has declined by up to 21% since 1961 due to these environmental challenges in the region.

Agriculture provides livelihoods for 68% of Nepal’s population, accounting for 34% of the GDP. Yet Nepal struggles to produce an adequate supply of food for its citizens states a USAID report from 2020. The main causes of food insecurity in Nepal include low production, outdated methods of farming, inadequate distribution, limited access to food in distant places, and low income. Food insecurity worsened during the Covid 19 pandemic due to restrictions placed on travel, access to resources, and the closure of restaurants, factories, marketplaces, and shopping centres. 

One of the key objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. The government allocates a budget for the agriculture sector every year. For the fiscal year 2080-81, the government has earmarked Rs 55.89 billion out of which Rs 30 billion will be spent on the import of chemical fertilisers. The math does not add up as the remaining amount is severely insufficient. 

Interventions are taking place but will the pace of policy and delivery mechanisms hold good is the question. The government in May 2023 launched a series of programmatic frameworks in the food and agriculture sectors that will help the country transform its agrifood systems, making them more resilient and sustainable. A Country Programming Framework (2023-2027) has been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations with Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and other stakeholders. The CPF is a strategic framework that aims to strengthen the country’s food and agriculture sector by identifying priority areas of investment and intervention. 
Higher economic growth, equitable distribution, a combination of policies including the effective execution of anti-poverty programs, better health education and employment among many other factors are required to be priortised to address the issue. 

In this edition of Business 360, we spoke with a few experts on their views on the situation.

Krishna Prasad Pant, PhD
Agricultural Economist

How does price fluctuation of agricultural commodities impact food security in Nepal?

Price fluctuations of agricultural commodities impact food security of both producers and consumers. Producers cannot get a reasonable price during the harvesting season, and they do distress sales (selling entire or more compromising their home consumption) to get a certain sum of money they need. Similarly, consumers cannot afford enough food to consume.

The main cause for price fluctuation is the seasonality of agricultural products. As we are in the northern hemisphere, and the technologies we adopt are mostly nature based, seasonality applies for most of the agricultural commodities. However, we need food to consume year-round. Price of agricultural commodities goes down during the harvest season, then the prices increase continuously till the next harvest. Price of agricultural commodities also fluctuates due to changes in government policies, especially tax policies, natural disasters, social conflict, cartel formation by traders and rumours in the market. Poor market integration due to the distance from seaports and weak transportation facilities also causes price fluctuations.

What are the effects of civil turmoil such as political unrest or conflict on food security in Nepal, particularly in terms of access to food?

Though the agriculture sector is the least affected sector by civil turmoil, such problems affect transportation and distribution of agricultural inputs and services leading to decreased production and hurdles on timely marketing. Disturbances in market supplies and decrease in production lead to food insecurity.

How do livestock epidemics or crop diseases affect food security, and what measures are in place to mitigate these risks?

Occurrences of disease and pests affect food production to a large extent. Spread of plants and animal diseases and pests decreases productivity. Spread of locusts on crops a few years back and occurrence of neck blast on hybrid rice in recent years are some examples. Similarly, the spread of lumpy skin disease of livestock this year decreased milk production. Changing climate is also attributed to the increasing disease and pests.

Can you comment on how inadequate infrastructure (transportation and storage facilities) hinder the achievement of food security in the country?

Food security is affected by poor infrastructure. Poor road conditions especially those affected by landslides and floods affect food supply in cities as well as rural areas. Seasonal roads are disrupted during the rainy season affecting food supply and other transactions in rural areas. Food products are airlifted for some of the mountain areas, but that is neither enough nor reliable. There are not enough warehouses to store food for the lean season. Some local governments have recently constructed warehouses, but their working modalities are not clear to support food security. Unavailability of electricity connection on farmlands limits the use of irrigation equipment compromising food production. Limited coverage of telecommunication services in rural areas causes technology information gaps and poor market linkages to the farmers in rural areas.

What are the specific challenges faced by rural communities in Nepal as a result of the rural-to-urban shift?

Previously, traditional food practices of rural people in Nepal were highly diversified with complementarity of farm products and forest products. Nationalisation of the forests and their subsequent degradation decreases the forest food products drastically. Market linkages and supply of food products, especially rice and processed foods (particularly noodles and cold drinks) from cities have replaced local food products to a large extent. Out-migration of rural labour force to cities and outside the country has caused labour shortage in rural areas for food production. Decreased livestock production, poor supply of chemical fertilisers and unavailability of irrigation water has led to abandonment of farmlands decreasing food production in rural areas. Those people left in rural households are now mostly dependent on imported food grains.

What are the strategies and policies in place to address price fluctuations and stabilise food prices in Nepal?

National Agricultural Policy was developed two decades ago and Agricultural Development Strategy (2015 to 2035) was developed before federalism, and they are now being updated. Agricultural Marketing Bill has been under discussion for the last four decades, but has not yet been realised. Thus, Nepal has no specific policy to deal with price fluctuations of food products. Imposing taxes on some of the agricultural products has aggravated the situation of price fluctuations.

Sunita Nhemaphuki
Founder, R & D Innovative Solution

How does price fluctuation of agricultural commodities impact food security in Nepal?

There are a few main causes of price fluctuation in agricultural commodities. One, we lack a database of production in our system. Some goods which are perishable and fruits that are imported from other countries are found to be cheaper in our country rather than the goods produced here as a result of which we do not know the amount of production in our own country.

The second major cause is climate change. For instance, India is facing a shortage of sugarcane and they have decided to stop the export of sugar to Nepal causing a rise in the price of sugar here. In our country there is lack of preparation in the market as well for such market changes.

Third, in recent times, the Russia-Ukraine war has had a worldwide impact as oil items were majorly imported from there. The price of sunflower oil has skyrocketed.

Fourth, though Nepal is considered an agricultural country the quantity we produce is low. We have so much land which is not being used at all. Nepal is behind in terms of technology and innovation and more so ever in the agriculture field. Investing in agriculture needs a lot of training, technologies, facilities and resources which discourage people from getting into the field.

Fifth, there is post-harvest loss as well. We as consumers have at least stored food that will suffice for the next two months and that at times gets spoilt during the storage.

Next, the farmers who produce in bulk do not have proper storage facility causing loss of products and rise in price in the market.

These are the few causes that have had an impact on food security in the country – the unplanned, unsynchronised, and uncertain aspects have hindered food security in Nepal which hampers people, especially consumers from middle- and lower-income families.

What are the effects of civil turmoil such as political unrest or conflict on food security in Nepal, particularly in terms of access to food?

Unstable government has and will always hamper any country and its people. Here, our prior civil turmoils have impacted people, economy and mindset. When people are voting they believe they are going to choose the right government to govern the country for a solid five years but after a couple of years the whole system is changed, there is uncertainty of any good policies to be implemented. The lack of trust created by the government and their acts have hampered the will of the people to try new ventures.

We don’t have strict policies for agriculture such as looking after the welfare of the crops or food production, the process and the whole mechanism. The Food Security Act has yet to be passed as well. The government has highlighted the production of crops in terms of area but they have totally neglected policies regarding it. Who is going to look after the pricing or how are they pricing the products? The government has only given priority to production but the other aspects are totally neglected.

Nepal has a trillion-dollar food industry which is a market of only our everyday staple food such as rice, lentils and milk. In a trillion-dollar market we cannot go forward with an unorganised government as it brings risk to the quality of life. Channellising is important, the flow of work is important and as the government is not able to channellise policies for their own farmers, the trust factor is deterred.

One of the biggest problems that is rampant in the market is they are prioritising rice to be the only food. We as humans need nutrients the most to be healthy but as there is less promotion of other nutritious food, people who are not aware suffer in the long term. A recent example is a municipality that has imported thousands of bottles of Coke and Fanta in their city because people have started to believe that these drinks are juices. Awareness of food intake is vital but the government has not prioritised it at all. In the recent budget as well, at least 10% should be segregated for research in agriculture but only Rs two billion has been separated for it. We as citizens can only imagine how manipulative it has been that our own production is not given importance. The budget for agriculture reflects that the government is not giving priority to the sector.

How do livestock epidemics or crop diseases affect food security, and what measures are in place to mitigate these risks?

Lumpy skin disease has recently been seen in cows and has decreased the production of milk by 60%. Whenever there is fluctuation in production, our border being open to India has played a major role. In this particular context, people have imported ghee from India when they faced a shortage of it in the market at a lower price and now the Nepali livestock production houses are facing problems as their products have higher margins.

Similarly, study and research play an important role when it comes to understanding and knowing the products that have potential to grow the economy of the country such as understanding what is better for our livestock, crops, herbal medicines but the government has not given importance to such matters. At least 10% of the budget should be provided for research and development but only Rs two billion has been allotted for the purpose.

Also, diseases in livestock or epidemics may not hamper exactly at that moment but in the long term it will because we have an open border with our southern neighbour. But if India too faces such uncertainty in their production and closes the supply, then the problem of such causes will be widely seen in the market.

Food insecurity is a very crucial issue. For instance, if a kid does not get enough food, there are chances their mental and physical growth will impede. This particularly hinders the overall development of one of the most important segments of the country.

Can you comment on how inadequate infrastructure (transportation and storage facilities) hinder the achievement of food security in the country?

There are very few storage facilities in Nepal for any kind of food. Our government is trying to build storage facilities but we also need skilled human resources who know the entire mechanism of the storage process. They should know the right temperature, its maintenance, storage capacity and so on. Here, we have made storage facilities just for the sake of making them but the functionalities are neglected. Human resource is extremely crucial along with proper knowledge and experience when it comes to agriculture.

Currently, there is abundant supply of milk in the market but we don’t have storage facilities for it. If only Dairy Development Corporation, a government body, could store it for two months there wouldn’t be such losses as we are facing now. Hence, having storage alone is not only enough but proper skilled human resource is important to achieve proper storage.

What are the specific challenges faced by rural communities in Nepal as a result of the rural-to-urban shift?

Food insecurity hampers the urban and semi urban areas the most rather than rural regions. Rural areas have a lot of land and have production. They eat whatever is produced there. But semi urban and urban areas do not have efficient food storage and the current scenario of people getting minimum wage where 60% of their salary is used in food are the ones who face major problems.

The rural to urban shift is widely seen currently. People are shifting to urban cities to find more stable jobs to increase the quality of life, regardless of job insecurity in the cities. The government has set a criterion of Rs 15,000 as the basic minimum salary. Now, imagine a person who has shifted from a rural area to an urban setting and surviving on that salary. There will be issues with health and nutrition. Therefore, the unmanaged shifts cause food insecurity among people in urban areas rather than in rural settings.

What are the strategies and policies in place to address price fluctuations and stabilise food prices in Nepal?

The first thing is that the price of certain food crops should be consistent and decided by the government itself. The price of paddy is Rs 32 per kg. According to tha,t people should be getting rice at Rs 50 to Rs 60 so that everyone is able to afford it.

When we know the price of products we can determine how and where we can spend our money. The Agricultural Marketing Bill has been in construction for the last four decades, making it uncertain for the country to deal with uncertain price fluctuations and eventually hindering the quality of life and food security.

Sabnam Shivakoti Aryal
Joint Secretary, Agriculture Development Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development

How does price fluctuation of agricultural commodities impact food security in Nepal?

The market works on two principles, supply and demand which govern the price fluctuation. The demand in the market determines the amount of assets needed for the country. In recent cases, there has been market clot resulting in unstable and unhandled price fluctuations.

The quality of commodities also is a player of such price fluctuations. It directly affects food security. In the case of Nepal, planning based production is absent. We don’t have the data to determine the amount of assets we require. If goods are imported, there is no active mechanism to determine the quality of the product and compare it with the local production along with the demand of the population.

The recent case of tomatoes is a perfect example. Farmers compare the production and prices from last year and try to sell it in a revised version. The lack of study of goods that are imported and produced here has caused a difference in pricing, further causing an imbalance. This kind of imbalance can be seen in every food product making it difficult for people to sustain in the current inflated market.

What are the effects of civil turmoil such as political unrest or conflict on food security in Nepal, particularly in terms of access to food?

The civil clashes have caused migration. As agriculture was and still is manually performed, the migration of people to urban areas hindered the production rate a lot. The loss of human resources and the rapid shift of people from rural to urban areas have caused a big gap in agriculture in the last few decades.

The Russia-Ukraine war has severely hampered the supply chain in our country as well. The price of fuels and fertilisers which are majorly imported increased. This affected the transport costs which showed up in the increase in the price of all commodities. If transportation charges increase, it will hamper all areas concerned with production of crops to daily based food in the market making the food industry more insecure.

Fertilisers play a vital role in transforming traditional farming into a production sector. The rise in price of fuels has hampered its availability along with excessive price inflation of fertilisers causing farmers to pay more for it. Even though the government provides subsidies to farmers, it is not enough, and during such periods, the government suffers as well. This is a chain reaction and there will be a ripple effect across.

There is inflation in food as well. If we look at the data of May 2023, inflation has increased by 5% - 5.4%. and the consumption pattern is that we spend around 60% of our earnings on food meaning the increase in price of food commodities compels us to spend more on food, thus leaving us with little resources to spend on healthcare and other facilities.

Hence, in the context of food security, price plays a huge role and hampers the quality of life. The entire chain will gradually affect the standard of living in the country.

How do livestock epidemics or crop diseases affect food security, and what measures are in place to mitigate these risks?

The disease that we see in crops and animals is the cause of climate change. Climate change has brought uncertain environmental hazards and unpredictable situations for everyone involved in agriculture. Agriculture is based on the good and bad organisms that are present in fertilisers and pesticides. The imbalance is another reason for such occurrences.

Similarly, having an open border with India, the back and forth of livestock causes high possibility of transmission of transboundary diseases. Any kind of disease hinders the production of goods.

Nevertheless, there is a regular disease surveillance system which acts immediately if any kind of disease is seen in cattle. We coordinate with the concerned department and through proper surveillance, we handle the issues. We also bring out reports to know exactly what the problems are and these reports are sent internationally as well to monitor the crops and animals and their welfare.

Internal quarantine is also a method that Nepal has been using for the past few years. If any place is confirmed to have been affected by any kind of disease, then the animals are killed like during the bird flu to control the spread. Also, there is mass vaccination for cattle to help stop any kind of spread of diseases. We also ask farms to follow strict protocols and use bio-safety protocols so that the welfare of the crops and cattle is ensured.

These are all linked with insurance. The government has been urging people to utilise the insurance policy whereby if any of their cattle dies or needs to be killed due to any kind of natural calamity or disease, then around 80% of the loss is covered.

Can you comment on how inadequate infrastructure (transportation and storage facilities) hinder the achievement of food security in the country?

Storage facilities are a must for farmers. If they get the chance to store their products even for a short time and sell it in the market, they will benefit from it. There should be different kinds of storage facilities for different products. This management will help to minimise post-harvest loss as well.

The biggest problem that we are facing is we have a limited number of storage houses and the ones that we have are not technically fit. Even though the government and private sector have invested in such stores and even have certain subsidies, during the operation and maintenance phase, the lack of technical human resources causes loss of food and crops.

Similarly, storage facilities are built just because the budget has been segregated for it but not for its importance or need. The lack of proper planning and placement of storage has been causing uncertainty as well. Hence, even though storage houses have been constructed, there is no business because of its misutilisation.

What are the specific challenges faced by rural communities in Nepal as a result of the rural-to-urban shift?

Recent statistics show an increase in the abandonment of agriculture land. In hilly areas around 30% of the land is estimated to be barren. Migration is one cause for this situation. As Nepal is highly dependent on remittance, the consumption pattern has changed and increased as well. People have shifted from growing their own crops to eating products available in the market. Similarly, as there has been a massive shift from rural to urban areas, the land that has been left barren has started becoming a breeding ground for wildlife. We can see monkeys in many places now which is unusual.

Also, farmers will not stop cultivating rice and paddy but they have stopped planting any other commodities because of the uncertainties seen in the market. In the long term, biodiversity will be affected because of this practice.

What are the strategies and policies in place to address price fluctuations and stabilise food prices in Nepal?

We cannot control prices as they are governed by the market. We look at this factor in two ways; one, once the goods are in the market, they should be competitive to tackle the imported products in terms of price and quality. To make this possible the production cost should be reduced in all aspects. The government must give incentives and subsidies to help farmers achieve this.

Second, price policy has supported farmers in a few commodities such as milk where the government determines its price, eliminating malpractice.

Bhuwan Kc
Co-founder, Kathmandu Organics

How does price fluctuation of agricultural commodities impact food security in Nepal?

The changes in prices of agricultural commodities can have a snowball effect on the food system. It can result in the rise of food prices, which means consumers won’t be able to buy adequate food as the affordability of food increases. There are various factors that cause fluctuations in prices of agricultural commodities - it is mostly due to the inelastic nature of supply and demand of these commodities. Factors like natural disasters, weather patterns, crop disease, consumer preferences can impact demand and supply.  Fluctuations in supply and demand create imbalances leading to price volatility. Policy and trade factors also play vital role in price fluctuations.  Government policies, including import/export regulations, subsidies, and trade agreements, can affect domestic prices. For instance, restrictions on imports or exports can create shortages or surpluses, leading to price fluctuations.

What are the effects of civil turmoil such as political unrest or conflict on food security in Nepal, particularly in terms of access to food?

Civil turmoil can have significant adverse effect on food security. It can cause problems in production, distribution and access to food itself. Farmers may face challenges such as displacement, destruction of crops and infrastructure, limited access to inputs (seeds, fertilisers), and insecurity that hampers their ability to engage in farming activities. This can lead to reduced agricultural output and lower availability of food. Political unrest or conflict can disrupt transportation networks and hinder the movement of food from production areas to markets or distribution centres. Civil turmoil can cause displacement of people, loss of livelihoods, and economic instability. Reduced food availability, disrupted supply chains, and increased demand due to population displacement can lead to price inflation, making food less affordable for affected populations.

How do livestock epidemics or crop diseases affect food security, and what measures are in place to mitigate these risks?

The occurrence of diseases such as livestock epidemics or crop diseases can have significant implications for food security in Nepal. Livestock epidemics can cause reduced livestock production, leading to a decline in the availability of meat, milk, eggs, and other livestock-derived products. Livestock farming is a major source of income for many rural households. Epidemics can disrupt livelihoods, decrease household income, and adversely affect the well-being of farmers and their families. Crop disease can also cause reduced agricultural productivity as diseases can lower crop yields, damage quality, and result in crop losses. Crop diseases can directly impact the income and livelihoods of farmers who rely on crop production for their sustenance. Lower yields and crop losses can lead to decreased incomes and increased vulnerability a common scenario in Nepali agriculture landscape.

Can you comment on how inadequate infrastructure (transportation and storage facilities) hinder the achievement of food security in the country?

Insufficient transportation infrastructure such as poorly maintained roads or lack of connectivity can make it challenging for farmers to transport their produce from rural areas to markets.  Inadequate storage facilities including cold storage or warehouses can lead to post-harvest losses. Without proper storage options, perishable agricultural commodities, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, are prone to spoilage, reducing the availability of food and farmers’ income. In rural areas with limited transportation and storage infrastructure, market fluctuations can occur more frequently. Farmers may face difficulties in timing their sales to maximise profits due to limited storage options. This can lead to price volatility and economic uncertainty for farmers. Inadequate infrastructure hampers the establishment of food processing units and value-addition activities in rural areas. Inefficient transportation systems can lead to higher transportation costs, which are eventually passed on to consumers in the form of increased food prices. This can further degrade the situation of food security in Nepal.

What are the specific challenges faced by rural communities in Nepal as a result of the rural-to-urban shift?

Rural-to-urban shift contributes to decline in availability of agricultural workforce. As people migrate from rural areas to urban centres, there is a decline in the agricultural workforce in rural communities. This can lead to labor shortages, affecting agricultural productivity, reducing food production capacity and higher daily wage rates.

Many rural communities in Nepal are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture. The rural-to-urban shift can leave agricultural land less managed and more susceptible to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods, and erratic weather patterns. These climate risks can further undermine food production and security. Urbanisation often brings changes in dietary patterns, with increased consumption of processed and imported foods. This shift can impact local food systems and reduce demand for locally produced agricultural products, affecting the income opportunities of rural farmers.

What are the strategies and policies in place to address price fluctuations and stabilise food prices in Nepal?

The government must implement social safety nets and food security programmes to assist vulnerable populations. This includes programmes such as subsidised food distribution in rural districts, mid-day meal programmes at school, and targeted nutrition interventions to ensure access to adequate and nutritious food.

Improving agricultural productivity is a long-term strategy to stabilise food prices. The government must promote modern agricultural practices, provides training and extension services to farmers, facilitate access to inputs, and invest in agricultural research and development to enhance production capacity and reduce reliance on imports. Government agencies like National Agriculture Research Council and Krishi Gyan Kendras play a vital role in these areas.

The government may provide subsidies or implement targeted support programmes to vulnerable populations, such as low-income households or marginalised communities. This can include direct food subsidies, cash transfers, or nutrition programmes to enhance access to affordable and nutritious food.

The government must operate price monitoring and information systems to track and analyse food prices. This enables timely interventions and helps ensure transparency in the market.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of these strategies and policies depends on their implementation, monitoring, and coordination among relevant government agencies. Regular assessments and adjustments are necessary to address evolving market dynamics and ensure the effectiveness of measures to stabilise food prices for vulnerable populations in Nepal.

Improving agricultural productivity is a long-term strategy to stabilise food prices. The government must promote modern agricultural practices, provides training and extension services to farmers, facilitate access to inputs, and invest in agricultural research and development to enhance production capacity and reduce reliance on imports. Government agencies like National Agriculture Research Council and Krishi Gyan Kendras play a vital role in these areas.

Shoma Thapa
Technical Expert, Agri Studio Nepal 

How does price fluctuation of agricultural commodities impact food security in Nepal?

There is a saying that no one dies of hunger in Nepal, and to a large extent this saying used to be true but it might turn to a myth sooner. Food system in Nepal is facing challenges like never before driven mainly due to climate change, Covid 19 and recently, the global food and fuel crisis brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nepal’s GDP contribution from agriculture is diminishing year by year though we are an agricultural dominant country.

In Nepal, the use of climate-smart agriculture is still in its infancy. Lack of pricing control is a consequence of lack of control over climatic production. Additionally, the agricultural sector relies heavily on middlemen to move goods from farmers to markets. As a result, these middlemen play a significant role in determining how much agricultural goods cost. In addition, we depend heavily on our neighbouring nations for a variety of goods including tractors, insecticides, fertilisers and seeds. All of these elements significantly influence price changes.

What are the effects of civil turmoil such as political unrest or conflict on food security in Nepal, particularly in terms of access to food?

The lack of desire among Nepal’s young population to stay in the country is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the civil unrest in the nation. As farmers and entrepreneurs, we are severely short on trained, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour. We now need to look for labour forces from India due to heavy labour immigration.

How do livestock epidemics or crop diseases affect food security, and what measures are in place to mitigate these risks?

Since raising livestock in Nepal is still mostly a subsistence activity, there is a noticeable lack of technology and little usage of biosecurity measures. Over 10,000 cattle have perished in recent months as a result of lumpy skin disease. In the days to come, this will significantly affect the dairy industry.

These ailments have a substantial influence on Nepal’s food security every year as they damage both livestock and crops. If farming is not commercialised and technologically oriented, it will be difficult to eliminate these dangers. Additionally, when illnesses are spreading quickly, the local authorities must support small-scale farmers immediately and raise awareness of the dangers in advance.

Can you comment on how inadequate infrastructure (transportation and storage facilities) hinder the achievement of food security in the country?

Road access in Nepal is always impacted by the season, natural disasters, strikes, and border closures, to mention a few. Until we create a reliable supply chain, these dependencies will continue to exist. Each municipality can establish a goal for the creation of self-sufficient, contemporary farms that depend on the population to produce seasonal vegetables and crops.

We are observing a growing capacity for the production of exotic fruits and vegetables in Nepal, but they require a guaranteed supply chain process to have a steady market: if Mustang/Manang apples, bell peppers from the East, and asparagus from Kathmandu receive a guaranteed national and export market, Nepal can quickly become a hub for agricultural exports. The market for millets is expanding rapidly, and while Nepal’s environment is ideally suited to producing a range of millets, we still want adequate supply.

What are the specific challenges faced by rural communities in Nepal as a result of the rural-to-urban shift?

Life is straightforward when we live in rural settings. Since every household grows some fruits, vegetables, and cattle for its own use, food security is rarely a concern. However, many are compelled to move to large centres because of a supposedly higher quality of life. When that occurs, spending capacity is severely impacted. In metropolitan cities, life is generally pricey. When you move to the city, the readily available food in our hamlet suddenly becomes a luxury.  

 

 

 

 

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MARCH 2024

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