Rice shortage looms over Bajura villages due to road disruptionsThe depot of the Food Management and Trading Company in Martadi, the district headquarters, is low on stock of rice grains.
On Sunday, Man Bahadur Rokaya from Sapatta Joru in Bajura, accompanied by his five neighbours, reached Kolti, which is a day’s walk away from his home, in search of rice. But when he reached Kolti, he was told that the depot of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd had been closed for more than a month now.
“We have been facing a shortage of rice in Sapatta Joru for almost two months now,” said Rokaya. “And I had to return empty handed from Kolti since the depot was closed.”
Nabin Acharya, chief at the depot in Kolti, said, “There is no stock of rice left in the godowns so we had to shut down the depot.”
According to him, Bajura has not been able to bring in rice, as the roads that link Martadi, the district headquarters, with other districts have been blocked due to landslides.
“The Martadi-Kolti road and the Sanfe-Martadi road have been blocked by landslide debris,” Acharya said.
Every year, the eastern part of Bajura, including Kolti, faces a shortage of rice grains. Kolti, which is around 45 kilometres from Martadi, covers three rural municipalities and one municipality. All three rural municipalities—Himlai, Swamikartik and Jagannath— and Budhinanda Municipality are out of stock of rice grains.
Chiranjibi Shahi, chairman at Swamikartik Rural Municipality, said, “We need at least 3,000 quintals of rice right away. The rural municipality recently conducted a survey in five wards of Swamikartik and found that almost all families are reeling under rice shortage.”
Ramchandra Budhathapa, a resident of Kawadi in Himali Rural Municipality, who had also reached Kolti to purchase rice, said, “I walked for one-and-a-half days to reach Kolti bazaar from Kawadi. But there was no rice available in the bazaar as well.”
According to Acharya, the District Security Committee in Bajura has demanded the government to airlift 2,000 quintals of rice for Kolti and 1,000 quintals of rice for Martadi.
Even Martadi, the district headquarters, has started running out of its rice stock. Mekhraj Ojha, chief at the Bajura depot of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd, said, “We sold more than 1,000 quintals of rice between mid-July and mid-August. But now, we only have a limited stock available. The depot is selling around 100 quintals of rice on a daily basis.”
Tula Rokaya, vice-chairperson of the Bajura Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that traders in Martadi haven’t been able to import food grains due to road blockages caused by landslides. Continuous rainfall in the past few weeks has hindered road repair works, said Daman Bista, engineer at the Division Road Office in Sanfe.
“Multiple landslides have occurred along the Sanfe-Martadi road section. With the continuous rainfall, we haven’t been able to initiate any repair works on the road section,” he said.
According to the Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Bajura, only 40 percent of the total 24,888 households in the district can survive with their agriculture harvest for three months.
“Every year, the district needs 11,000 metric tonnes of food grains, including rice. This need is fulfilled by the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd and the traders in Martadi,” said Min Prasad Jaishi, chief at the Agriculture Knowledge Centre.
The data of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre showed that only 9.21 percent of the land in Bajura is arable; of the total arable land, below 2 percent has irrigation facilities.
“Bajura is a highly food-insecure district. It has been facing an average food deficit of 11,000 metric tonnes every year,” said Jaishi.