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Some 32 districts face food deficit

Two more districts have been added in the list of food deficit districts – thanks to drop in cereal output also due to devastating earthquake on April 25 that destroyed food – however the country will witness food surplus of 155,558 tonnes in the current fiscal year.
“The number of food-deficit districts increased to 32 in the current fiscal year from 30 last fiscal year,” according to a preliminary food balance sheet of Ministry of Agricultural Development.
Of the total 75 districts, in the current fiscal year some 32 districts do not grow enough food to feed their population, it said, adding that these districts face a combined 974,662 tonnes of food deficit.
However, the ministry claimed that the country has posted food surplus of 155,558 tonnes – in the current fiscal year – calculated on the basis of the population of 28.1 million. “The country had recorded 789,890 tonnes food surplus in the last fiscal year,” the report ‘Preliminary Estimate on Food Need and Availability in Nepal’ released here today revealed, claiming that the country is enjoying food surplus despite drop in production of staple crops by around 3.1 per cent this year. “The surplus, however, is the lowest in the past three years.”
The country had enjoyed food surplus of 943,100 tonnes, 408,400 tonnes and 789,000 tonnes in the past fiscal years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively.
“Nepal is food-sufficient in 2014-15,” spokesperson at the ministry Uday Chandra Thakur said, adding that the production of consumable food stood at 5.5 million tonnes in the current fiscal year, while the food needed for total population was only 5.34 million tonnes.
Likewise, food-deficit situation will be severe in 10 of the 14 most earthquake-affected districts including Okhaldhunga, Sindhuli, Nuwakot and Ramechhap. Dhading, Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk were food-surplus last year but they are food-deficit this year, he added.
Some 10 districts – excluding Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Sindhuli and Nuwakot – of the worst earth-quake hit 14 districts are food-deficit. “These districts face a combined 553,969 tonnes of food deficit, up from 294,809 tonnes in the last fiscal year.”
The ministry data also revealed that earthquake destroyed 135,000 tonnes of food in the current fiscal year.
Similarly, the country will face deficit of 676,800 tonnes of rice in the next fiscal year 2015-16, the ministry claimed, assuming that the country will be self-sufficient in other food items. The report also estimated that the country will witness surplus of 43,300 tonnes of maize, 1,000 tonnes of millet, 466 tons of buckwheat, 785,800 tons of wheat and 1,600 tonnes of barley in the next fiscal year.
In the three fiscal years – from 2009-10 to 2011-12 – the number of food deficit districts had almost halved from 43 to 27, as the country posted bumper cereal harvest. When calculating the supply available, food grains shipped between districts are not taken into account. Rice, maize, wheat, buckwheat, millet and barley are the six crops counted as food grain.
Low production, rise in population, impact of earthquake, and increasing use of food grains to prepare animal feed are some of the reasons behind low food surplus this year, according to the report.
Food requirement has been computed on the basis of 181kg per person per year in the mountain region, 201kg per person in the hills and 191kg per person in the Tarai, according to the ministry.
The ministry estimated that some 9.26 million tonnes of food has been produced in the current fiscal year. “Of the total output, calculated on the basis of country’s population of 28.1 million, food used for human consumption amounted to 5.34 million tonnes, leaving a surplus of 155,558 tonnes food this year.”