Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nepal farmers' adaptation to climate change

Dr. Narahari p. Ghimire in the Himalayan Times: Nepali farmers have perceived climate change and have experienced the changes in climatic pattern since many years. A study was conducted in Gulmi district on farmer’s perceptions, witnesses and experiences on effects of climate change on agriculture and adaptations by farmers. While studying the farmers’ perception and pattern of climate change, it was found that temperature is increasing at a lower rate. Big change has not been noticed in total monsoon precipitation. Erratic rainfall is continuing and winter rain is decreasing. The proper timing and amount of rainfall is very important in agriculture as it has great impact on yields. Erratic rainfall is also increasing incidences of drought as well as floods.

Problems of soil fertility and irrigation management have also increased and farmers have even lost some local rice varieties which were unable to adjust to the changing environment. Similarly, an erratic rainfall and increasing temperatures have promoted the incidence of insect pests and diseases directly affecting the growth and development of crops resulting in reduced production. The farmers’ past experience tells that untimely and decreasing rainfall was the biggest threat to rice growers. Only 5-10 per cent financially well-off farmers have irrigation facility to raise nursery, prepare the field and transplant paddy while others have to wait for the monsoon rain.

Water has been the major limitation in this area, so that, adaptation to vegetable farming is almost impossible. Most of the farmers have slowly shifted to hybrid, less water-requiring and early-maturing varieties. To adjust with the climatic extremity of drought and late rainfall, most of farmers have changed cropping calendar, pattern and planting method. They have made adjustments in agricultural practices such as varietal changes, changes in cropping calendar, pattern, planting method, application of pesticide and chemical fertilizers and resource conservation technologies such as zero tillage and surface seeding are adopted by farmers in both low and upland areas...

Tutemani with its single farm settlements is a cultural landscape typical for eastern Nepal. Despite the barren landscape, rice, wheat and maize is grown. The surrounding hills used to be covered in trees. Photo: Fritz Berger, Etter Studio. Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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