HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Food scientists across the country have said that the country’s position in ensuring quality food for the people is weak. The country has a lot to do regarding food safety and nutrition, they said at a national conference held on August 10-11.
Scientists showed major concern regarding food safety, quality and its nutritional values, said joint secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Development Uttam Kumar Bhattarai. “We had bumper crops last year but it doesn’t ensure food quality and nutrition,” he said, adding that adequacy of food with nutrition values should be our prime concern.
The country has ranked 79th out of 105 countries in food affordability, availability, and quality and safety in the Global Food Security Index 2012. Nepal ranks 91 for affordability, 71 for availability, and 74 for quality and safety.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the country produced more than nine
million metric tonnes of food grains last year but
still about seven million people living in the mid and western hill districts faced food shortages. It is mainly because of the inefficient supply system.
“The supply system also needs to be strengthened,” he said, “But it is also important to maintain food safety and nutrition status. Malnutrition is a chronic problem here.” About 41 per cent children under five years were severely malnourished, while 39 per cent were underweight according to a study in 2010. “It is an alarming situation that has hampered the country in meeting the Millennium Development Goals also,” he said.
Similarly, food safety
situation is also poor in
the country. According to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control about 10 per cent food items found in Nepali markets are either adulterated or substandard.
World Health Organisation has stated that the rate must be zero for better public health.
About three dozen papers were presented in the conference and most focused on food safety, quality and nutrition. Therefore, we are submitting clear and pragmatic recommendations to the government, said Bhattarai.
More than 200 participants from government agencies, college students and experts took part in the conference.
There are about 10 food technology colleges in operation in the country.