Print Edition - 2015-06-20 | MONEY
Nepal needs ‘$20m’ to help quake-hit farmers
Jun 19, 2015-
Earthquake-hit Nepal urgently needs some $20 million to support farmers so that they can resume agricultural activities and stave off the threat of prolonged food insecurity facing an estimated one million people, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said.
The disaster has also heavily disrupted farming activities threatening the livelihoods of rural families.
An FAO-led Agricultural Livelihood Impact Appraisal found that half of all the farming households in Nepal’s six hardest-hit districts of Dhading, Dolakha, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchok lost nearly all of their stored crops of rice, maize, wheat and millet.
In addition, the earthquakes destroyed farming tools, kitchen gardens and supplies of fertilizer and caused significant damage to small-scale irrigation.
Some 16 percent of the cattle and 36 percent of the poultry were lost in the disaster with detrimental effects on rural household consumption and income.
“Agriculture is a critical priority because two-thirds of Nepalis depend on farming for their livelihoods,” said FAO Representative in Nepal, Somsak Pipoppinyo.
Current levels of international assistance for Nepal’s earthquake-affected farmers will deliver “only a fraction” of the assistance urgently required, Somsak said. “We only have a limited window to act,” he said, adding that rice seeds have to be distributed urgently before the start of the heavy monsoon rains which are expected to arrive in the coming days.
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.
The most urgent needs for the current cropping season are seeds and fertilizers, followed by irrigation, tools and technical support. The repair and functioning of irrigation systems will be critical for the winter cropping season, as well as barley and wheat seeds, the FAO said.
Livestock urgently require shelter, feed water, medicine and vaccinations, the FAO’s appraisal noted. The organization has already distributed 40,000 5-kg bags of rice seeds to the six most-affected districts in time for farmers to plant before the monsoon.
It has also distributed airtight grain storage bags, animal feed supplements and vegetable seeds. In the coming weeks, the FAO plans to distribute additional farming inputs including more vegetable seeds, wheat seeds for the winter season, mineral blocks and corrugated iron roofing sheets for livestock shelter.
The FAO is also looking at ways to increase the resilience of Nepal’s most vulnerable farmers to future crises. “In particular, in order to avoid future losses of lives, properties and arable land due to landslides as much as possible, options include planting deep-rooted trees and bushes, and installing cages full of stones – known as gabions – to fix some highly unstable soil which has a high probability of sliding when filled with water with the coming monsoon,” the FAO said in a statement.
In addition, the FAO will look at mapping major earthquake cracks in key districts, monitoring any changes and establishing early warning systems to advise farmers of emerging landslide risks. The FAO has received around $3 million for emergency relief so far, thanks to contributions from Belgium, Italy and Norway.
Published: 20-06-2015 08:21