Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southern Nepal faces food deficit for first time

Southern Nepal faces food deficit for first time 2009-04-11 13:19:34

KATHMANDU, April 11 (Xinhua) -- For the first time, southern Nepal's Terai districts -- the country's food basket -- have faced a food deficit, local media reported on Saturday.

According to, at least eight Terai districts -- Sunsari, Saptari, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Siraha, Kailali and Dhanusha -- didn't produce adequate food grains for themselves this year, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

"In addition, other Terai districts including Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Banke and Morang are likely to face a food deficit in the near future," said MoAC Spokesperson Hari Dahal.

He said one main reason behind the food deficit in Terai was the growing population in the plains against low productivity of the areas.

"Decreased soil fertility due to low use of organic fertilizers is another reason," he added.

He said food deficit in the country's grain basket signals serious challenges in maintaining food security. Moreover, India's prohibition on rice export poses a grave threat to food security in Nepal, according to him.

According to the ministry, 41 out of 75 districts in the country are currently facing a food deficit. The Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) has been supplying food grains to 30 hill districts that suffer food shortages on an annual basis.

On the other hand, propelled by a winter drought, the remote hill districts are already facing food shortages this year although these districts used to face a shortage from June onwards.

The NFC said it was already receiving high demand and it had already sold 92,000 quintals of rice this year out of 124,000 quintals sent to various districts.

The United Nations World Food Program has already warned that the winter drought, which would cause crop losses of between 30-70 percent, would push two million people toward hunger.

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