Upper Mustang Region Facing Food Crisis

IAS Prelims 2023

According to report published in Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, theĀ Upper-Mustang region of Nepal is facing severe to chronic food insecurity in terms of self-production.

People have started consuming less meat than before for two reasons. First, they have started producing less meat, and there is also a problem in the storage of meat due to climate change.

As in other areas of the Himalayan belt, people in Mustang keep animals for meat, milk and wool. The average herd size of mountain goats per family has reduced from 200-300 to 20-30. Moreover, people cannot store goat carcasses for as long as they did in the past.

Housing in the Mustang area is flat-roofed made of clay or mud. It used to collect snow in the winter, which worked as natural refrigeration. However, with climate change, the snowing season now starts late and melting starts sooner than before.

Traditionally, people in Mustang grew their own food and bartered it with other essentials. Although, the soil is coarse and the climate harsh, people in Mustang tamed it into fertile land through several generations of toil and adapted to appropriate cultivation methods and food culture.

However, this age-old practice of self-production is being challenged by climate change, urbanization and out-migration. Young men and women have migrated out for work. They send remittance back home. Others in the village prefer to spend more time in their tourism businesses than in the fields. People prefer to buy market food that is transported from the Terai or other parts of the country and is easily available in the local market.