The UN’s food agency has called for $8 million (7.1 million euros) in donations urgently needed to help farmers in Nepal recover from the powerful quake that has threatened the country’s food supply. A primary concern is to make sure that the farmers do not miss the planting season for rice, Nepal’s staple food, which is expected to begin in late May, said the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Failure to plant in time would leave farmers without a crop to harvest until late 2016 in a country where around two-thirds of people rely on agriculture for their livelihood. “There is a critical window of opportunity to help crop producers plant in time to have a rice harvest this year,” said Somsak Pipoppinyo, FAO representative in Nepal.
“At the same time, we need to do all we can to preserve vital livestock assets which provide affected families with much needed income and nutrition.” A 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday — Nepal’s biggest in 80 years — killed nearly 6,000 people and has left about 3.5 million needing food donations, FAO said.
Although damage to the agriculture sector has not yet been assessed, impacted families have likely lost livestock, crops, food as well as things like fertilizer and seeds.
The disaster has also destroyed markets and infrastructure, including roads as well as irrigation and drainage canals. Accordingly, trade and the movement of emergency aid has been hurt. The Rome-based FAO said it will help “20,000 of the most vulnerable farming households protect and rebuild their livelihoods.” The UN and its partners have called for $415 million in emergency donations to meet the most urgent needs in Nepal.