Reference Date: 28-April-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Earthquake caused widespread devastation in the Central and Western Regions
Wheat production in 2015 forecast to decrease from last year’s level
Cereal imports in 2014/15 (July/June) marketing year anticipated at record level
Earthquake caused widespread devastation severely affecting food security in the Central and Western Regions
On 25 April, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 (Mw) on the Richter Scale, the worst the country has experienced in 80 years, struck Central and Western Regions of Nepal, with the epicentre in Lampung District (north-west) of Kathmandu. Dozens of aftershocks followed, with magnitudes ranging between 4.5 and 6.7 (Mw). According to the latest official information, as of 28 April, at least 5 057 people have been confirmed dead, more than 10 915 injured and hundreds are still missing. The numbers are expected to increase as more information becomes available with rescue teams reaching villages in remote areas. Latest estimates indicate that some 39 out of the country’s 75 districts have been affected, of which 11 are reported to have incurred severe damages. This includes the largest cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, the very densely populated districts of Sindulpalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Dolakha and Lamjung, as well as villages in mountain and hilly areas. The earthquake caused severe damage to housing, infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, roads and bridges. Large numbers of the vulnerable population in the mountain and hilly areas have remained isolated. Internal trade, including the movement of emergency assistance is severely constrained. The food security situation of the affected population is adversely impacted by the difficulties to access to food.
The damage to the agriculture sector has not yet been assessed but wheat and maize crops in the Central Mountain, Central Hills, Western Mountain and Western Hills Regions are likely to be affected the most due to landslides and disruption of harvesting operations for wheat and planting for maize. In addition, losses to the stored food, agricultural inputs, as well as damages to irrigation and drainage canals are likely to be high.
Food and non-food assistance, including emergency shelters, is immediately required. The Government of Nepal has declared the state of emergency in the affected areas and officially requested international assistance.
Wheat production in 2015 projected to decrease from last year’s level
Harvesting of the 2015 mostly irrigated winter wheat is nearing completion in the low-lying areas in southern parts and is expected to continue until the end of June in the northern hilly areas. Heavy rains, coupled with strong winds and localized hail, during the first dekad of March over the western growing areas, negatively affected the standing wheat crop in the final stages of development. Pending a more detailed assessment of losses of crops due to the earthquake, and considering the previous crop damages as a result of unseasonal rains, FAO puts the 2015 wheat production at 1.8 million tonnes, some 5 percent below last year’s record level.
Sowing of the 2015 maize and rice crops is undergoing or about to be planted in low-laying Terai areas. As these areas have been marginally affected by the earthquake, and pending more detailed information on damages, FAO maintains its preliminary production forecast of 2.3 million tonnes for maize, around last year’s level, and 5 million tonnes of rice, a recovery from the 2014 reduced crop. However, in the most affected areas planting reductions may be severe.
Therefore it is critical that farmers receive agricultural assistance, including seeds, planting material and farming equipment, to sow rice in time and avoid output shortfalls in these areas.
Cereal imports in the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) anticipated at record level
Cereal imports for the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are expected to reach 591 800 tonnes, slightly above last year’s record level. Most of this volume is rice, imports of which are anticipated at 520 000 tonnes, up 2 percent from the previous year’s level, reflecting a slightly reduced 2014 production and sustained demand. By contrast, maize imports are forecast to remain similar to the low level of 2013/14, reflecting a good harvest for two consecutive years.