Sunday, 24 October, 2021

End Poverty, Hunger

Poverty and hunger are the two faces of the same coin. Being one of the least developed as well as landlocked countries, Nepal has been facing double trouble owing to various reasons. The limited fiscal space does not allow the nation to go the whole hog in tackling an unfavourable food security system. The situation is further aggravated after natural calamities such as climate change impacts and the recent outbreak of the pandemic have pulverised our agriculture and economy.

Also true is the fact that resource-strapped Nepal often has to do with disruptions in food supply chains that invariably lead to a rise in food prices, making the poor unable to access the required amount of food. This leaves a considerable number of people either hungry or under-nourished, giving rise to various forms of ailments and diseases stemming from inappropriate food intake among our population. Similarly, a physically weak population cannot participate in works and qualified for employment, thus limiting the bounties of our economic activities. Nepal has a food chain system that is vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather that only shrinks its economy and reverses all achievements gained on development fronts. The unfavourable economic condition and sluggish developments act as a catalyst for the vicious circle of poverty and hunger.

Amid such a doom and gloom, it is satisfying to note that our government has made its commitment at the UN to achieve zero hunger in the country by 2030 after enabling the affected section of the populace to have access to nutritious food, which will not only end the hunger but will also make them healthy. Addressing the virtual Food System Summit, convened on the margins of the 76th session of the UNGA, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expressed the government's determination to build a resilient and sustainable food system and adopt a pro-poor and inclusive policy to tackle the evils of poverty and hunger by transforming the national economy stronger and vibrant. The hardships posed by climate change and COVID-19 will also be tackled firmly and strongly. The government will vaccinate all eligible citizens by April 2022 to render the population economically active.

The government, however, requires adopting different measures to achieve its goal of zero hunger within the stipulated time. Consolidating food supply chains and curbing food price rises are twin necessities at present that can be achieved by boosting food production in abundance. For this to be achieved, the government must introduce and implement what many call transformative technologies in the agriculture sector to see the increased production of food grains. The agriculture sector, in the meantime, must remain resilient to adverse climate impacts and extreme weather. Though Nepal is known as a country with agriculture as its major backbone, the country is compelled to import foods worth billions of rupees every year. The high cost of food and disruption of supply leave a section of our population undernourished and hungry, making them weak, unhealthy and diseased, which invariably affects government coffers. Such an unfavourable situation calls for a sustainable response. It is praiseworthy that our government has vowed to end the dual evils of poverty and hunger that will immensely spur the economic and development endeavours.