Report from 2050: Nepal Crop Failure Challenges World Cup

Teamwork is the theme as FIFA and the U.N. help host nation through food crisis

[Note: This was originally published on 13.7 Billion Years as part of "Reports from 2050," a series of imagined reports from the year 2050, based on current news, recent discoveries and scientific predictions. To see what's real and what's not, click on the links within the text.]

by Reynard Loki, 13.7 Billion Years

JANUARY 20, 2050 (Zurich) -- "The games must go on," said FIFA director Romeo Beckham at a press conference here yesterday about the status of this year's World Cup, which will be held in June in Kathmandu, Nepal. "But at the same time, FIFA is committed to working with the United Nations, World Cup team countries and the people of Nepal to help our host nation survive a humanitarian crisis."

Preparations for the world's most famous soccer event have been impacted by Nepal's crop failure, which has affected the vast majority of the nation's 46 million inhabitants. FIFA officials are also concerned with feeding the more than 3 million people who are expected to attend the games. But out of the crisis, the kind of teamwork that is common among championship-winning soccer teams has helped to create new partnerships and innovative solutions.

"We are working with the United Nations World Food Programme to import supplies from China to ensure that all World Cup-associated restaurants, cafeterias, food carts and caterers have what they need," Beckham said. FIFA, the U.N. and the Nepalese government have also collaborated on a job training program to train hundreds of unemployed local farmers to be temporary food workers during the World Cup.

World Cup team countries are also pitching in. When the German team arrives in Kathmandu next month for training, they will bring with them a team of scientists from Bonn's Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) who will work with Nepal's farmers on developing new irrigation techniques. The Brazilian team will arrive with a team of scientists from Brazil's Rice and Bean Research Center who will experiment with a new low-water, high-yield hybrid rice in Nepal's Terai region.

In 2011, IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), reported that "Nepal needs to improve irrigation management to achieve higher agricultural productivity and overcome 'dismal' water and crop shortages," noting a WFP report that found that "the 600,000 people living in the far and mid-west regions at the base of the Himalayan mountains...have the most problems growing and accessing enough food to survive."

"Until the 1970s, Nepal was as a food exporting nation, but in the past decade it has become a net food importing country, producing less than 2.5 tons of grain per hectare annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture."

Water shortages, global warming, drought, land degradation and overpopulation have all contributed to the crop failure. Nepal is one of dozens of countries fighting the global food crisis.

Hailing the international level of teamwork in preparing for the World Cup in the face of Nepal's crop failure, Beckham noted the power of sports in bringing people together and recited a quote by the American soccer player Mia Hamm (the women's FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002): "I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion."

image: FIFA World Cup 2050, Nepal's Bid Facebook

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