Every time the southern neighbors impose a blockade in Nepal, there is a panic looming across the streets of metropolitan cities. A few days back when India decided to stop the export of onions I overheard a shopkeeper telling a customer, “I told you to take 3 kilograms yesterday but you did not listen to me. Today the price has tripled.” The customer sighed a “Really?” on response. This isn’t a new thing to people who completely depend upon local vendors and supermarkets for their daily vegetable requirement. The history has loudly spoken about how every time there is a blockade over Nepal, the price of fresh vegetables, pulses, and vegetable oils has increased in several folds. The food commodities in addition to other products have been out of grasp of common people and have severely tested people’s ability to cope; be it during the 1989 blockade, 2015 blockade or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The frequent landslides in the major highways of Nepal during the monsoon haven’t spared people in the metropolitan areas too. In fact, the metro cities are the foremost affected areas whenever there is a crisis. A sane person is worried about his morning and evening meal rather than the petrol on his bike every time there’s an emergency, making food as our basic and the most important need.
When the lockdown kept extending and fears of Covid-19 played hide and seek on the streets of Kathmandu, people wore three masks over their face and kept choosing ripe and red tomatoes from crowded local shops taking all the time in the world. They kept running to local vendors for a handful of coriander to touch up their curry with a little ‘dhaniya garnish’. Despite the huge potentiality of Metro farms in cities like Kathmandu with almost 1.5 Ropani of empty rooftops, it is agriculturally sad to see people meeting their smallest need of vegetables through the local vendors and supermarkets.
At these unprecedented times while there is a pandemic loose, every nation must opt for a sustainable food supply system to be resilient. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are the first steps to sustainability. While everyone can celebrate this independence of being a Metro farmer by growing their own food then why not?