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Growing food insecurity in Karnali, Far West Nepal: WFP

Mandatta Rawal, JUMLA: Karnali, Far West Nepal is known as the fertile area for organic farm products in the country. However, climate change has started having its impact on the livelihood of farmers of this mountainous region.
Eighteen thousand farmers’ households in Jumla are still dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. No matter how much hard work they put in to increase their production, the yield is decreasing and it is not enough to support the food need of the family even for six months.
Only six to seven years back, farmers had enough food to last for the whole year. They cultivated various cereal crops as paddy, barley, wheat, maize, finger millet and foxtail millet, and the production was also high. Even a family with 12 members had enough to eat for the whole year.
But things have changed in the recent years. The agriculture production has been dwindling and Karnali is at risk of food insecurity as the farmers do not have the knowledge regarding modern farming methods to cope with climate change effects. Even the families which are ‘well-off’ in local context are dependent on imported food grains.
Agriculture economist Balak Ram Devkota summed up the situation: “The farmers in Karnali are facing a big problem in their livelihood. On the one hand the area of farmland that is uncultivated is increasing while the problem of food insecurity is rising on the other.”
Jumla is at high risk of food insecurity due to the decreasing production owing to the climatic factors.
Nearly 25 to 30 percent of the population in all eight local levels of Jumla is living in abject poverty.
In this backdrop, the World Food Programme (WFP) is going to conduct research study based on 15 indicators in a bid to increasing the food security in the district. The different sectors in which WFP is conducting its research study include horticulture, pomiculture, non-timber forest products, livestock, poultry, fisheries, tourism and daily wage labour.
WFP’s Man Chhetri said that a comprehensive study would be conducted regarding the livelihood for analyzing the farmers’ resilience. According to him, the study would help know about the status of import of and export of agricultural products from Karnali, the situation of food security and livelihood issues.
He said special study would be carried out regarding measuring the climate change risk, the impact of climate change on the targeted population, ways to reduce the climate change impact on these target groups, identification of areas segregated on the basis of means of livelihood, analysis of the past and future impact of climate change and risk areas, among other topics.
Before this, the WFP had conducted a household survey on food security with respect to the summer crop, paddy, and the winter crop, wheat and on food security and malnutrition from 2066 BS to 2071 BS.
It is said the comprehensive study would be carried out in various districts of Karnali. Presently, this kind of study is being carried out in the districts of State-2 and Karnali. RSS

(Locals of Jumla buying rice after they were not able to produce the crop grains on their own due to the dry spell that has hit the entire Karnali region. Photo: DB Budha)

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