Monday, November 21, 2011

Food deficit and insufficient inputs

Food deficit in Nepal is mainly the result of insufficient inputs in the production process, conversion of food grain into animal feed, erratic rainfall, delayed monsoon and poor land husbandry. The crop yield data show big yield gaps (the gap between attainable yield and the national average yield). The gap is three tons per hectare for wheat, three tons per hectare for maize and two tons per hectare for rice. Thus, over a million hectares of cultivable land yield below average. Agro scientists in Nepal often complain that there is not enough money for research and awareness programs aimed at farmers, which would be of enormous help in reducing these gaps. Unavailability of quality seeds, fertilizers and plant-protection chemicals for the crops are other important factors. Moreover, the government does not have enough space to store all of the food grain produced in the country; instead traders across the border store Nepali harvest, thus leading to seasonal shortages. If the farmers are supported with proper inputs in time and storage facilities are improved, we can attain the goal of food sufficiency in a not too distant future. Also, if the farmers could store rainwater during monsoon for its use in the dry season, millions of tons of additional yield can be achieved. None of these measures require genetic manipulation of seeds, which is Monsanto’s forte. 

Read more by Krishna Bahadur Karki here.

My take on food security in Nepal here (research brief) and here. Here is a link to a detailed paper on high food prices in South Asia.