“In his guest post on the FarmingFirst website, Madhu Sudan Ghimire, an agriculture student from Nepal urges for action to be taken to support rural communities and farmers, to avoid a food crisis in the country following the recent earthquake. This post is part Farming First’s ongoing partnership with the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) network.
It was Saturday 25th of April 2015: a normal day when my country was celebrating the weekly public holiday. Everything was fine until an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale shook Nepal at 11:56 am local time killing thousands of people in a flash. Many more were injured, nearly half a million houses were destroyed completely and some 3.5 million people are now in need of food assistance. All sectors of the country’s economy have been hit hard by the quake, according to the US Geological Survey the economic losses could be as much as $10bn. However the sector that depends on the seasons and the natural resources – agriculture – will be worst hit.
The agriculture sector employs 70 per cent of the population affected by the earthquake, and accounts for more than 35 per cent of national GDP. The 14 affected districts account for almost 10 per cent of national output of rice, and almost 20 per cent of national output of maize. Although damage to the agriculture sector has not yet been assessed, affected families have likely lost livestock, crops, food stocks and valuable agricultural inputs. The disaster has destroyed markets and infrastructure, including roads and crucial irrigation and drainage canals. As a result, internal trade, including the movement of emergency aid, is severely constrained.
Nepal’s estimated wheat production in 2015 will now be much lower than the forecast 1.8 million tonnes. Farmers who miss the planting season that is expected to start in late May will be unable to harvest rice – the country’s staple food — until late 2016. This, together with likely losses of food stocks and wheat and maize harvests, will severely limit food supplies and incomes in the South Asian country.
Prioritising Resilient Recovery
In meeting the agricultural needs of communities, interventions should be phased and designed appropriately to support and promote resilient livelihood recovery. This means not only focusing on the effects of this earthquake, but rather having a comprehensive approach to reduce the vulnerability of households to other more frequent hazards, such as landslides, floods, droughts, pests and diseases.