Nepal has enough food to feed the population for 5 monthsDistribution amid the lockdown is the problem, officials say.
Nepal has enough food to feed the population for around five months, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies said.
Foods stocks built up from domestic production and continuous imports include 139,617 tonnes of rice, 134,435 tonnes of salt, 35,266 tonnes of sugar, and 16,097 tonnes of lentils and legumes.
According to the ministry, these figures refer to the inventory held by state-owned Food Management and Trade Company and Salt Trading Company and the private sector as of May 26.
Edible oil stocks include 56,887 tonnes with Salt Trading and 83,967 tonnes with private firms. Salt Trading has 109,955 tonnes of lentils stored in its warehouses.
Joint Secretary Prakash Dahal said there was no supply problem, and the ministry was more concerned about the difficulty of delivering the food to the people due to the lockdown and lack of workers.
The government has adopted various measures like mobilising vans to deliver food and vegetables through corporations, and coordinating with cooperatives to deliver vegetables from Kalimati and Balkhu to residential areas.
As farmers have not been able to get their fresh produce to market, the ministry has assigned local units to facilitate distribution, he said.
Food Management and Trade Company and Salt Trading have issued 7,198 tonnes of food as relief so far. Food Management and Trading Company has also distributed 6,117 tonnes of rice at a 10 percent discount through the municipalities in different districts.
Dahal refuted reports that food imports from India had stopped or been banned as a result of the border dispute, adding that shipments were arriving regularly.
According to the ministry, 725 tonnes of food items, 2,506 tonnes of lentils, 229 tonnes of vegetables, 361 tonnes of fruits, 700 tonnes of dairy products, Rs26 million worth of pharmaceutical raw materials and Rs22 million worth of medicines were imported on May 25.
In the 63 days of the lockdown, 207,233 tonnes of food items, 59,334 tonnes of lentils, 77,493 tonnes of vegetables, 29,753 tonnes of fruits, 12,133 tonnes of dairy products, pharmaceutical raw materials valued at Rs801 million and medicines valued at Rs 3 billion entered the country.
Food imports increased by an average of 8.6 percent over the lockdown period—lentils and legumes by 16 percent, vegetables by 7 percent and fruits by 42 percent. The import of dairy products rose 30-fold.
During the same period, imports of pharmaceutical raw materials swelled by 37 percent, and imports of medicines increased by 33 percent. Food items and consumable products are being imported through all border points except Rasuwagadhi.
According to officials, 11 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas entered the country on May 25. The domestic edible oil industry has 1,365 tonnes of sunflower oil in stock with 6,884 tonnes in the process of being imported. A shipment of 53,264 tonnes of oil is stored in Kolkata.
Market inspection is being conducted in response to rising prices. The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection and its offices in different districts have been checking the bazaars in coordination with the District Administration Office. The department has taken action against many traders for price gouging.