Monday, July 19, 2010

Training farmers to adapt to unpredictable weather in Nepal

IRIN: Rising temperatures, drought, floods and landslides have combined to kill crops and leave millions hungry in Nepal. “Those traditional crops like rice, potatoes, wheat, maize, which were doing well decades ago are not doing so well recently,” said Gehendra Gurung, Nepal programme leader of international NGO Practical Action.

The number of highly food insecure people in Nepal - a country of about 29 million people still recovering from 10 years of armed conflict that ended in 2006 - has tripled in the last three years to more than 3.7 million, according to the UN World Food Programme. In the drought-prone, remote mountains of the west, three out of every five children are underweight because of malnutrition.

However, revamping traditional farming practices with improved irrigation practices and new crop strains to adapt to climate change could alleviate food insecurity. “Farmers continue to practice the traditional way of farming because they remain unaware of the ecological changes being caused by climate change and lack knowledge about new agricultural technologies,” Gurung said.

…More than 80 percent of the country’s agricultural output depends on rain. There is still no efficient irrigation system in place, with farmers depending instead on rain-fed farming….

Threshing in Nepal, shot by Yves Picq, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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