UN food agency seeks $8 million for Nepal farmers

FAO is concrned about farmers missing out on the rice planting season


Afp April 30, 2015
Effected area of Nepal - overview. PHOTO: AFP

ROME: The UN's food agency on Thursday issued an appeal 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 making sure farmers do not miss the planting season for rice, Nepal's staple food, which is expected to begin in late May, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

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, Food Agricultural Organisation (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, Food Agricultural Organisation 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 fertiliser 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 Food Agricultural Organisation (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.

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