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Fear of famine in Jumla as drought destroys winter crops

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Jumla, May 06, 2016: Agriculture experts of Jumla fear the possibility of famine in the district as prolonged drought has damaged the winter crops this season.

Ratna Prasad Neupane, a local farmer of Chandannath Municipality-1 in Jumla, is distressed after the winter crops started to dry up.

He had been expecting to harvest some five quintals of barley from three ropanis of his farm. But to his dismay, all of them have started to dry up. “I have no other alternative than to slash and burn the barley,” he said.

The drought has not just diminished production but the crops have been infected by diseases due to lack of rainfall. “Even though the crops were watered sufficiently, they are drying up,” he added.

Another farmer also shares similar plight. “Now the winter crops are drying up because of drought. “Had the crops not dried up, it could have been sufficient for six months. But the harvest doesn’t seem to last even for a month,” he said.

Kalo Kami, a resident at Chandannath, says that he doesn’t feel like looking at the arid farmlands because they are so dry and lifeless. “We are likely to sleep on empty stomach now,” he said.

According to the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), drought in Jumla has caused loss of 60 percent production of wheat and barley.

This year, there has been production loss of 3600 metric tons of winter crops, DADO’s planning officer Balak Ram Devkota informed.

Out of total winter crops grown in 3,000 hectares of land, crops in 1,800 hectares have already been destroyed. According to the data provided by the office, 2,000 hectares of land was planted with oat, 950 hectares with wheat and the remaining with barley.

Although the immediate impact in food security may not be seen this year, there may be famine the next year, the DADO estimates.