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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2058

Agriculture Ministry seeks Rs 1.62bn to fight drought

Kosh R. Koirala – Reporting from Nepal

Kathmandu, 09 August, (Asiantribune.com): Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) has asked the government and the donor community to extend an additional Rs 1.62 billion for a package aimed at minimizing the possible impact of the prolonged drought on overall food supply.

In a meeting with the local representatives of major donors on Friday, the MoAC warned that Nepal might face a food deficit of up to 400,000 tons during the current fiscal year due to lack of adequate of rainfall on time.

Nepal´s food deficit last year was 132,914 tons whereas it had recorded a rare food surplus of 22,367 tons a year earlier.

The ministry has concluded that all 75 districts have been affected by the current drought and that the situation in the Tarai in southern part of the country is more serious than northern parts like hills and mountains.

According to preliminary estimates, the production of paddy, which holds 50 percent weight in the food grain consumption basket of the Nepali people, is likely to miss this year´s projected paddy production target by 350,000 tons. The production of maize is also likely to fall short by 100,000 tons due to the drought.

The agriculture ministry has proposed a set of immediate, intermediate and long-term actions to limit the imminent impact of drought on Nepal´s agricultural production. Supports to farmers in seed and small irrigation are some of the major programs proposed under the immediate actions for which the ministry is planning to spend Rs 250 million within a month.

Likewise, the ministry has sought Rs 780 million for the implementation of intermediate actions like extending support for winter crop seeds, fertilizers and small irrigation programs. Similarly, the ministry is also proposing Rs 550 million worth of intermediate programs to support the livestock sector and ensure smooth supplies of meat and dairy products.

The agriculture ministry is looking for an additional budget of Rs 50 million for the implementation of long-term actions like expanding irrigation facilities, mainly through support to tube-wells.

The MoAC has stressed the possible need to import 200,000 tons of food worth Rs 8 billion (US$ 107 million) and urged the government to pay attention to managing a buffer stock of food and seeds. There is also a need to ensure supply of improved livestock breeds and expansion of the irrigation network, stated the presentation.

- Asian Tribune -

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