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Nepal earthquakes

Nepal earthquakes

Two major earthquakes struck Western and Central Regions of Nepal on 25 April and 12 May (7.8 and 7.3 magnitude, respectively). Millions of people are affected in a total of 39 districts, out of 75 districts countrywide. The affected areas range from Nepal’s largest cities (Kathmandu and Pokhara) to highly vulnerable mountain and hilly areas. The massive quakes and aftershocks have severely injured and killed thousands of people, flattened homes, downed power and destroyed infrastructure, including roads to access affected populations.

The impact on food security and agricultural livelihoods is extremely high. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for around two-thirds of Nepalese, including many subsistence farmers. Affected families have lost livestock, standing crops, food stocks and agricultural inputs, while facing market disruptions and constrained movement of emergency assistance.

The earthquakes struck during the wheat harvest, with maize planting ongoing and rice sowing expected to start from late May onwards. Before the disaster, FAO estimated wheat production at 1.8 million tonnes – 5 percent below last year’s record harvest. However, this forecast may not materialize due to crop damage and disrupted harvest operations in earthquake-affected areas.

It is critical that farmers receive agricultural support to sow rice in time for the imminent planting season (late May to August). Farmers who miss the season will be unable to harvest rice – Nepal’s primary staple food crop – until late 2016. This would deprive families of a year’s worth of food supply, wipe out anticipated income and prolong dependence on external assistance.

Nepal earthquakes - Crop calendar

There is also a critical window of opportunity to preserve the livestock assets of affected families. Livestock are a continuous source of food and income for poor rural households, which are costly to replace. Further livestock losses can be prevented with the timely provision of veterinary supplies and animal feed.

FAO is supporting Government efforts to rapidly restore rural livelihoods and food production in Nepal. Donor funding is needed for urgent agricultural interventions that will increase the resilience of affected farming families and greatly reduce the time and costs of recovery. FAO seeks USD 8 million within the framework of the United Nations Flash Appeal for Response to the Nepal Earthquake.

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