One-fourth population is undernourished: FAO report

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Nov 23: Right to Food Assessment conducted jointly by Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 2008 said that one in four Bhutanese households is undernourished in terms of daily calorie intake.

For Bhutanese, minimum daily energy requirement is 2,124 kilocalories per person. National average daily adult caloric intake was 3,112 kilocalories. Zhemgang had the lowest consumption nationwide, with an average caloric consumption of 2,555 kilocalories.

Undernourishment was highest in Wangduephodrang and Zhemgang district at 40 percent, and the lowest, between 11 to 17 percent is in Trashigang, Tsirang and Trashiyangtse districts.

The 20 percent urban poor consume 2,318 kilocalories per day per person and the 20 percent rural poor consume only 1,982 kilocalories. 13.8 percent of Bhutanese have no sufficient access to food for one or more months in a year. Those with low levels of education and assets represented 23.42 percent of the undernourished urban population.

“Almost 60 percent households in Dagana indicated at least a month of food insufficiency, but just over 20 percent of the population could be classified as undernourished, based on their kilocalorie intake,” stated the study.

Services that can lead to improve food security, as per the report, are sanitation, livestock, agricultural, health services, water, education, and roads.

The study recommended investment in public infrastructure and basic services, in education and to improve access (and returns) to land and other agricultural assets.