Sudurpaschim state has witnessed growing food insecurity due to adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A study has shown that the food insecurity index has slid to 23 from 15 recorded in fiscal year 2016-17.

A programme organised by the State Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives revealed the study findings that due to the COVID-19 crisis, three out of 10 households have witnessed a decline in their income in the state. Similarly, regular income of 11 per cent of workers involved in agriculture and 25 per cent of those involved in nonagriculture sector have been obstructed.

The study was conducted by World Food Programme in coordination with government.

Director of Youth Group for Change, Dabal Bam, said although Sudurpaschim was safe in terms of food, people in some districts still had no access to food. The group works for citizen’s rights to food.

The report stated that among the population of 2.5 million in the Sudurpaschim state, 1.6 million people have no access to food, which clearly indicates food insecurity. The people from Dalit, freed-Haliyas, HIV-infected single women, Raute, smallholder farmers, those from Badi, Sona communities and those working in the informal sector were facing severe food crisis.

Director Bam added, “The source of income has been badly impacted by the COV- ID-19. People from Bajura, Bajhang, Baitadi and Darchula districts are at high risk. Although families are seeking loans to escape food crisis, they are not getting support from anywhere.”

However, two districts in the southern belt of the State — Kailali and Kanchanpur — have adequate food stock.

Production in these districts recovers the scarcity in hilly and mountainous districts.

At the programme, Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Binita Devi Chaudhary, however claimed that the government had prioritised agriculture. The programmes of agricultural development were given special attention where farmers would get opportunity to become self-reliant.

“Time has come to adopt commercial farming by quitting subsistence agriculture,” she said, adding that nutrition is equally important as food security.

Feature image: File

A version of this article appears in print on October 18, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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