Forty-five-year-old Kannasila Phadera, a resident of Unpani at Sarkegadh Rural Municipality-2 in Humla district, has to walk for five days to reach Gamgadhi, the district headquarters of Mugu, to purchase subsidised rice. After the purchase, she walks back home for five more days with her goats and sheep saddled with rice sacks.
Not only Phadera, this is the story of almost all the residents of Sarkegadh Rural Municipality and Chankheli Rural Municipality–they walk for 10 days to purchase subsidised rice at Gamgadhi. Even children are found carrying rice with their parents in the area. On Monday alone, a team of 14 people from Sarkegadh reached Gamgadhi to buy subsidised rice.
According to the residents of Sarkegadh, the Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) has not provided rice to the Sarkegadh depot in a long time.
Even the depot in Simkot, the district headquarters of Humla, lack sufficient rice for the residents of Sarkegadh, they said.
The lack of road access to Sarkegadh has led to the exorbitant pricing of rice in the rural municipality.
“One kilogram of rice costs Rs 200 in Sarkegadh, while the same amount of rice costs Rs 50 in Gamgadhi. This difference in pricing is the reason we are compelled to walk for days with heavy loads of rice,” said Kannasila Phadera.
Food products in Humla can get very expensive as the district is considered one of the most remote and isolated regions of Nepal that is reachable only by foot or air.
Locals in Sarkegadh complain that the government is apathetic to their problems.
“Leaders make promises of providing us with rice and iodised salt when asking for votes. But once they get into power, they forget about us,” said Bishnu Phadera, a resident of Unpani, Sarkegadh Rural Municipality.
Bharatraj Khaniya, chief of Gamgadi NFC depot, said around 50 percent of rice from Gamgadhi depot gets ferried to Humla villages every year.