Quake-hit Nepal needs USD 20-mn to resume agriculture: FAO

About USD 20 million is needed to support farmers in earthquake-hit Nepal so that they can resume agricultural activities and stave off the threat of prolonged food insecurity, FAO today said.

For the current cropping season, FAO representative in Nepal, Somsak Pipoppinyo said that there is “a limited window to act” as rice seeds are needed to be distributed urgently before the start of the heavy monsoon rain which is expected to arrive in a few days.

Stating that the recent earthquake has also heavily disrupted agri-activities in the country, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said: “To date, only 13 per cent has been received of the USD 23.4 million in emergency agricultural assistance which FAO estimates is required, as part of the revised UN Flash Appeal for Nepal.”

Agriculture is a priority area as two-third of Nepalis depend on farming for their livelihoods. But the current level of international assistance for Nepal’s quake-affected farmers will deliver “only a fraction” of the assistance urgently required, Pipoppinyo said.

The repair and functioning of irrigation systems will be critical for the winter cropping season, he said and added that livestock urgently require shelter, feed water, medicine and vaccinations.

In the statement, the UN body said it has already distributed 40,000 (5 kilogram) bags of rice seeds to the six most-affected districts of Dhading, Dolakha, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk, in time for farmers to plant before the monsoon.

It has also distributed airtight grain storage bags, animal feed supplements and vegetable seeds.

In coming weeks, FAO plans to distribute additional farming inputs including more vegetable seeds, wheat seeds for the winter season, mineral blocks and corrugated iron for livestock shelter, the statement added.

According to the FAO-led Agricultural Livelihood Impact Appraisal, in Nepal’s six hardest-hit districts, half of all farming households lost nearly all of their stored crops like rice, maize, wheat and millet.

In addition, the earthquake destroyed farming tools, kitchen gardens and supplies of fertilizer and caused significant damage to small-scale irrigation.

About 16 per cent of cattle and 36 per cent of poultry were lost in the disaster with detrimental effects on rural household consumption and income.

Many earthquake survivors are still living under corrugated iron shelters, tarpaulins or even plastic tunnels normally used for growing vegetables and are vulnerable to mudslides. Many of their animals have no shelter, FAO added.


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