While Nepal’s evergreen Finance Minister Dr. Ramsaran Mahat seemed upbeat about his performance in claiming that the present caretaker government is leaving behind a favorable economic environment for the upcoming government, there are reports from Western Nepal district of Acham that people have started eating local grasses and animal fodders due to the chronic scarcity of normal food grains like rice. The local authorities have warned that the situation may worsen. Almost everyday one gets the news of people dying or getting serious after eating poisonous mushroom that grow in the rainy season. This is in spite of what Dr. Mahat feels the “limited impact of the global food crisis” in Nepal owing to the good agricultural production in the country this year. What about the report which says the number of people living below the poverty line will go up to more than 50 per cent this year?
Speaking at the same ‘Round Table Conference on Food Situation and Humanitarianism’, United Nations’ World Food Program country director Richard Ragan said that the poor people of Nepal invest 70 percent of the income for their food. Perhaps, Mr. Ragan, too, might not have visited thousands of Nepali villages where even the ‘well-off’ people spend more than 99 per cent of their time and income(if any) for whatever goes into their mouth. Damn statistics!
Still, Dr. Mahat, as Nepal’s longest serving FM under various governments may be right on the need for focusing on irrigation and research projects to increase the agricultural output. However, the targeted people have benefited the least either from what Dr. Mahat gets from the donor agencies or Mr. Ragan’s announcement of such programs in which “UNFWP plans to supply food items to three million Nepalis this year.”
Rather Kush Kumar Joshi of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry seemed closer to reality when he disagreed with the government’s estimation of food surplus. Being the chief of Nepali business people, how could Mr. Joshi remain ignorant of the fact that both real and apparent projections of marketable surplus of food were erroneous!
Is one wrong to smell rats under the carpet?