Find here some information about food security in Nepal. Food security is not only the local or national issue, but is also a matter of global concern and it is never bounded by political or geographical boundaries. Food shortage and insecurity have become a chronic phenomenon for the remote mountain and hill districts of Nepal. Food scarcity and poverty are the key concerns of mountains and hill farmers because of the limited choices and options available for the production of food grains on marginal lands. Moreover, globalization, urbanization and climate change are other issues contributing to the severity of the food security in mountain districts of Nepal.

Food Security in Nepal’s Hill Region

It is the subject matter of food security in Nepal. It is the subject matter of Local Crops in Nepal’s Hill Regions. Some facts about Conservation of Local Crops in Nepal’s Hill Regions. Agriculture is the mainstay of hills and mountain economy in Nepal. It not only provides the livelihood for the vast majority of people but also acts as the main vehicle for rural development and poverty alleviation in the region. Mountain region has unique habitats or niches and therefore, great opportunities for promoting the specific niche-based farming system. However, food shortage and food insecurity have become chronic phenomena for the remote mountain and hill districts of Nepal. In addition, consistent lack of adequate quality and quantity of food has forced people to suffer from malnutrition, diarrhea, and dysentery in the region.

Our hill districts are full of natural resources including food-based resources. But part of the problem is because of supply-based development model rather than exploring and strengthening the local potentials. Local food habits are being continuously challenged from so-called modern food habits. Local crops, for example, Barley, Junelo, Millet, Buchwheat, Bhyakur, have been considered as marginalized crops or low-grade food items as compared to white polished rice transported from the lowlands. However, local crop produce and wild edible vegetables are becoming popular and considered as high nutritious and healthy food, thereby recently appearing in the supermarket and grocery shops of urban areas. Therefore, exploration and management of indigenous crops is a contributor to food security and sustainable livelihood of marginalized and landless communities. It is also regarded as one of the novels and innovative strategy to conserve locally threatened as well as globally important Crop Genetic Resources.

It has been observed that the farmers living in the diversity-rich areas are generally economically poor. Unless strong livelihood strategies, valuing and using locally available crops are implemented for the benefit of the real custodian of these valuable resources, our present model of development will not be effective to reduce the poverty in Nepal.
In the recent years through commercialization of agriculture coupled with inadequate awareness on the value of indigenous species, farmers have been gradually shifting towards few marked-oriented crops and/ or a less number of varieties, neglecting many local crops and cultivars. Declining demand and consumption of local crops and their varieties are the main reasons for farmers’ reluctance to grow local crops and harvest wild species.

Indigenous practices, knowledge and technologies are gradually being eroded by the market-centric high growth based production system. Local species, which are less susceptible to climatic changes, are neglected and failure of crops due to rapid climatic variations is worsening the poor farmers’ life.

Local traditional crops give resource-poor farmers a low-cost option to cope with the vulnerability of production systems by its ability to adapt to changing environments and to manage new pest and disease.

Local or traditional crop varieties have several positive qualities than that of improved varieties such as high-quality nutrients, weed, and disease resistance. Several high valued cultivated crops such as Latte, Junelo, Gittha, Buckwheat, Millet, Barley including several cultivars as well as wild varieties such as Jaluka, Niuro, Bhyakur have been gradually disappearing from the mid-hill region of Nepal.

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The proposed project has been developed on the basis of concerns expressed by the local inhabitants in an interaction during a preliminary survey by the collaborators.

Therefore, there is a high chance of reducing dependency on imported food by cultivating different local varieties (promoting indigenous crops) in a specific microclimate and develop local food self-sufficiency, which may condense the vulnerability to external shortages and price hike. Moreover, promotion of local indigenous crop varieties will ultimately lead to conservation of agro-biodiversity, and strengthen people’s livelihood through income generation by marketing surplus food through the value addition process.

Micro-climatic variations of the mid-hill agro-ecological region of Nepal are very suitable to produce various high valued local crops for local and export markets. Conservation and promotion of such local crop species will not only support the sustainable livelihood of the marginal farmers and landless population but also positively contribute to the diverse micro-climate of the mid-hill region. Building awareness of the value of such practices together with strengthening market linkages for enhancing organic consumption will contribute to a wealthy and healthy society ultimately contributing to poverty reduction.

The people of mountain regions are not willing to adopt the indigenous crops and technology in agriculture. Changing human perception & custodian, food habits, high status on imported food (white rice), ignoring agro-biodiversity, lack of traditional knowledge, ignorance about the nutritional value of local crops, using modern crops varieties are also important to the food security situation. Furthermore, lack of adequate quality food is the major root causes of malnutrition, diarrhea and dysentery in the region. The diversion from food crops to cash crops initially helped to increase farmers’ income and enhanced food security, the resulting sharp increase in food crops prices has now weakened the overall food security in the mountain regions.

See Also : Food Security in Nepal’s Mountains Region

In the recent years, through the commercialization of agriculture, farmers have been gradually shifting towards the few market-oriented crops and/or less number of varieties, neglecting many local crops and cultivars. Declining demand and consumption of local crops and their varieties at the local level is the main reason for farmers’ reluctance to grow local crops and landraces and harvest wild species. In contrast, recently, the neglected crops (considered as a marginalized crops i. e. Kodo, Fapar, Junelo, Latta, Jau, Ghaya etc.) and wild edible vegetables are being popular and considered as high nutritious and healthy food in the urban area thereby mounting the demands of such product day by day.

See Also : Food Security in Nepal’s Poor Civil

Local varieties such as barley, buckwheat, millet, Ghaya (rain-fed rice) which can be cultivated with less agricultural inputs on marginal land in hill and mountain areas, have high nutritional value than that of imported food or even than improved varieties. Not only they have high nutritional value but also they are less susceptible to climate change and diseases compared to imported varieties. Therefore, there is a high chance of reducing dependency on imported food by using different landraces in a specific microclimate and develop local food self-sufficiency, which may condense the vulnerability to external shortages and price hike. Moreover, promotion of local crop varieties and wild edible plants will ultimately lead to conservation of agro-biodiversity, and strengthen people’s livelihood through income generation by marketing surplus food production.

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