Food Crisis in Karnali : A Historical and Politico-economic Perspective

Chautari Book Series 46

Writer: Jagannath Adhikari
Publisher: Martin Chautari
First Published: 2008
Page 244, Rs. 200
ISBN: 978-9937-8094-1-2

Book Review
The Kathmandu Post, 25 June 2009


This book traces the history of food crisis and general underdevelopment in Karnali and then analyzes this crisis from a political economic perspective. The interventions from government in recent times in the form of food aid and development initiatives and their impact on people’s general livelihood have also been covered. Historical as well as contemporary information about livelihoods, food production, requirements and nutritional status clearly shows that the food crisis is deepening in Karnali.

The study reveals that much of the problems in Karnali relates to the hegemonic and exploitative relationship imposed by Kathmandu (the power center) over Karnali (a peripheral region treated as colony) since its unification in Nepal. The feeling among Karnali people that they are in a subservient position, rice is better food and their local food is inferior food, and that they need to depend on the bureaucracy for development originates from this relationship imposed by the ruling class for their political and economic interests. This ruling class, otherwise, belongs to the same social group as most people of Karnali in terms of caste and ethnicity. Accordingly, this study also demonstrates that class relations is much more important to understand the development and underdevelopment within the country.
As this book deals with the broad phenomenon of underdevelopment in Karnali with a focus on livelihood change, food crisis and alternative ways to improve the food security, it is expected that it will be useful for a wide range of people interested in Karnali – researchers, students, policy-makers and development practitioners.

Jagannath Adhikari is a human geographer interested in various topics related to development problems – food security, labor migration and remittance economy, agrarian change, and land management. He has published over a dozen of books and several articles on these subjects. He has been associated with Martin Chautari since 2001.

Table of contents

Chapter One: Development in Karnali and the Food Crisis
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Karnali’s failed development: social and political-economic perspectives
1.3. Research objectives
1.4. Methodology
1.5. Organization of the book
1.6. Karnali region and zone
1.7. Karnali weather: high variability

Chapter Two: Approaches to the Study of Food Crisis
2.1. Understanding food systems and food security
2.2. Vulnerability, access to resources and livelihood security: importance of political economy
2.3. Livelihood approach to food security analysis and its relevance to food-aid
2.4. Violence, conflict, livelihood and food security

Chapter Three: Political Development and Livelihood Crisis: A Historical Review
3.1. Before unification of Karnali to the formation of Nepali State (5th century–1769)
3.2. Unification to the downfall of the Ranas (1769–1950)
3.3. After the downfall of the Ranas to the dawn of democracy (1950–1990)
3.4. From the establishment of a democratic political system to the present (1990–2008)

Chapter Four: Livelihood Practices and Vulnerabilities: Changing Dynamics
4.1. Agriculture and food self-sufficiency
4.1.1. Increase in the area under cultivation
4.1.2. Production and productivity of various crops
4.1.3. Food self-sufficiency
4.1.4. Traditional farming system: diversity and importance of minor crops
4.1.5. Decline in productivity and low production
4.2. Animal husbandry
4.3. Home industry
4.4. Seasonal migration
4.5. Trade, marketing and mobility
4.6. Forest products (herbs, timber and wild life)
4.7. Honey and apples
4.8. Vulnerabilities and social problems

Chapter Five: Extent of Food Insecurity and Explanations
5.1. From food surplus to food deficit, and food deficit to food crisis
5.2. Searching for an explanation for the lack of food security
5.2.1. Physical exclusion and difficult terrain
5.2.2. Population pressure
5.2.3. Social inequality
5.2.4. Conflict and out-migration
5.2.5. Decline in internal exchange and new food customs
5.2.6. Decline in village cooperation
5.2.7. Roadlessness
5.2.8. Government neglect and discrimination
5.2.9. External intervention

Chapter Six: Government Response: Politics of Food-Aid and Food Crisis
6.1. Food deficit and food-aid
6.2. Food production deficit and government support
6.3. Government food-aid
6.5. Other support
6.6. Other sources of food
6.7. Inaccessibility and politics of transportation of foodgrains
6.8. Liberalization policy and reduction in subsidies

Chapter Seven: The Contemporary Situation of 2006: Field Study
7.1. The general situation in some districts
7.1.1. Mugu
7.1.2. Jumla
7.1.3. Kalikot
7.2. Socio-economic features of these districts based on village study
7.3. Demographic features
7.4. Access to land
7.5. Food production and its sufficiency at the household level
7.6. Ways to make up the food deficit
7.6.1. Access to uncultivated food
7.6.2. Access to government food
7.6.3. Access to employment opportunities
7.6.4. Cash income from local sources
7.7. Impact of conflict

Chapter Eight: Conclusions and Recommendations
8.1. Conclusions
8.1.1. A region of high vulnerability
8.1.2. Political-economic condition and food insecurity
8.1.3. Production failure
8.1.4. Change in food habits: influence of the dominant culture
8.1.5. Dependency on government food
8.1.6. Roadlessness: physical exclusion and unavailability of food
8.1.7. Emphasis on food-aid, but not on food security
8.1.8. Conflict and food security
8.1.9. Social and gender inequality within the community and the household
8.2. The way forward
8.2.1. Short term strategies
8.2.2. Long-term solutions


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