Changes in temperature, precipitation, and the frequency with which extreme weather events occur are just a few of the many manifestations of Climate Change. Although predictions regarding the impact of climate change on specific ecosystems and population groups are imprecise, it is unquestionable that variations in weather patterns will have negative implications for agriculture and food security.
There is general agreement that average temperatures in Nepal increased at an annual rate of .06°C between 1977 and 2000, with a 0.04°C increase in the Terai and 0.08°C increase in the Himalayas.
The impacts of Climate change are diverse and often debatable because they are coming from different sources and under different research framework. National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA)- Nepal (2010) has points out six major areas of Climate change impact namely Agriculture and Food security, Water resources, Climate induced disaster, Forest and biodiversity, Public health and Urban settlement and infrastructure (Tiwari, Balla, & Pokharel,2012).
The concerned stakeholders and institutions in Climate change sector are monitoring the Climate data and observing more intense, highly variable, longer gaps of no rain and delayed monsoon. In the same way growing number of glacier lakes and their growing size have high chance of outbreak and cause catastrophic floods. In addition there are several abnormalities predicted that includes biodiversity loss, desertification, glacier melting, and fresh water availability are often interlinked in complex system (Regmi et al., 2009). Global Climate change will also likely shift monsoon precipitation patterns in ways that will threaten particularly agricultural production in developing countries like Nepal (Tiwari, Balla, & Pokharel,2012).
The vulnerability level can be also related from the food security perspective. Nearly 21 percent of the crop area is irrigated in Nepal (Panta, 2009). A slight change in the climatic variability has high chance of inducing of large changes in agricultural production.
A recent example of shift of organize production region reflects the impact of Climate change in Nepal’s mountain region. In general, orange production takes place at 1200 to 1600 m. But at present it is observed that orange is found at the 1700 m altitude, Gauva also grow in high altitude (Tiwari, Balla, & Pokharel, 2012). Similar shift is observed in human habitation too.
The IPCC defines adaptation as “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.” In order to enhance resilience and manage current and expected stresses to their livelihoods, people make both tangible and intangible alterations in their decision making environments.
Climate change adaptation strategies can be autonomous or planned, anticipatory or reactionary. Autonomous adaptation draws on existing knowledge and technology to respond to climate variability whereas planned adaptation mobilizes institutions and policies in order to increase adaptive capacity and invest in new technologies and infrastructure.
Climate change Study In Nepal
Climate change study in Nepal is more focused on finding how Nepal is coping the Climate change impact. The researches analyses the mode and accuracy of farmers perception of climate change phenomena. Scientists carry out study to discover the new adaptation measures for farmers and people who are vulnerable to Climate change in Nepal’s mountainous area (Manandhar, Vogt, Perret, & Kazama, 2011).CC study in Nepal acknowledges the role of different institutions in driving the CC discourse ahead. It confirms the climate change perception acutely and find how farmers respond to it appropriately. Nepalese farmers have their own indigenous knowledge and experiences to deal with the climatic changes around them while they are found adopting various agricultural and non-agricultural adaption measures at an individual level.
The topic of the case study was Role of Agro-biodiversity to Progressive Climate Change.
This case study was done at three different ecological regions of Nepal viz. Terai, Hilly and Himalayan regions to know the effects along with adaptive mechanism of Climate Change.
Objective of the Case Study
The main purpose of the study can be presented in the below given points as follows:-
- To know whether the climate change really prevails in Nepal or not.
- To study about the signs of climate change in different areas of Nepal
- To study about the positive and negative impacts of climate change on Agro-biodiversity
- To study about the adaption techniques adopted by the farmers to cope with climate change.
The Literature for this study were searched from the internet through Google search engine and different publications were reviewed. During Google search the word like Climate change effects in Nepal, climate change adaption techniques in Nepal, climate change in Terai, Hills and Himalayas were entered and the most suitable topics were selected, studied, PDFs were downloaded and the other formats were studied by copying and pasting them on MS Word. For presentation and interpretation of the case study and the results, Microsoft word was used and the pictures were taken from the mobile camera during the case study. The farmers of Terai region (Hatibangai, Rupandehi), Hilly Region(Kusumkhola, Palpa) and Himalayan Region(Jomsom, Mustang) were asked questions for the case study.
There is changing trends among farmers behaviour as a response to Climate change impact in agriculture sector in terai. Farmer in terai districts is found to shift from rice planting to fish farming. They prefer to farm crop that requires less water, mature early and has high tolerance to flood and other extreme climatic events. Terai farmers have started adopting zero tillage and surface seeding as strategies to adapt to particular Climate change impacts in their region
Untimely rainfall and decreased production in Hatibangai VDC of Rupandehi
Problems:- Poor farmer Mr. Daya Ram Sahani, of Hatibangai VDC complains about increased temperature and decreased rainfall regarding the climate change. Farmer complains about the secondary impact of climate change for example they feel like there is increased deficiency of rainfall and subsequent drying of water sources in the village. Such unexpected phenomenon had resulted in soil hardening (difficult to break) and growing of shrubs more frequently in the paddy field. That increased the amount of labour to maintain the same level of production.
When asked about the climate information of the village in the 2 or 3 decade period, farmers especially depended on subsistent farming, which often had land on hill side with no possibility of irrigation canal to reach and soil of very bad quality, do feel that untimely and decreased rainfall had been the major problem in their agriculture. In one way it had decreased their production and stopped their regular farming cycle while in other hand such changes in climate like amount of rainfall and change in temperature had increased their cost of production. For example if the more amount of wild grass are seen in the paddy field, it need more labour to remove them. If untimely rainfall occurs or rainfall doesn’t come as per the prediction of the farmer and their preparation of the rice plant, then their preparation cost goes to vain. He added the presence of Gajare Ghas (Parthenium spp) everywhere in the open area.
Regarding the farmer’s capacity to adapt to the climate change, he seemed to be quite unknown about the need to adapt the farming mode. He was more worried about cursing the low rainfall and criticizing the VDC and government for not being able to manage irrigation for their land. Being unable to adapt to climate change and its negative impact on their production, he was moving towards foreign job employment opportunities for his younger generations in one side and on other side he was losing young labour to work on his field.
According to him, 2 decades back, most of the farmers who are above 40 years now were young and they do feel that the summer temperature had apparently increased but their perception over winter temperature remained mixed and unclear. They shared that partly it may be due to their old age factor that in cold winter also they feel as colder as they used to 2 decade back. While this experience contradict with the local people of relatively young age who shared that winter are less cold than that of their grandfather’s time. Also, all villagers do agree with one another experience of dry summer than past.
Rainfall had become rare and shorter in the VDC. Some shared that rain fall comes at once and vanish in shorter period even before the soil gets completely moist or wet. The drought had become relatively longer and harmful in compare to earlier one. The stopping of wheat is one of the consequences of that drought during winter.
Solutions:- The solutions for the existing problems could be management of irrigation facility, growing of drought tolerant crops and varieties, commercialised fish farming etc
Climate change; its pros and cons in Kusumkhola, Palpa
The geographical location of this VDC is relatively remote and settlements are widely scattered among 8-10 hilltop. According to Mr. Chabilal Acharya of Kusumkhola village, climate change has also led to drying of water resources and its bad impact on poor farmers’ livelihood who are heavily dependent on farming. Climate change has been experienced through increased temperature and subsequent opening of vegetables especially cauliflower and other cash crop, which was not possible some decades ago due to relatively lower temperature. Increased use of fertilizer has become necessary to main production- this had also been understood by farmers as the impact of climate change. Similarly, due to climate change there has been establishment and spread of pests and diseases that were prevalent in the terai regions before some years. Similarly the incidence of occurrence Banmara Jhar is hampering the productivity of cultivable land.
According to farmer, it’s difficult to predict rainfall and the drought are relative longer and than that of 2-3 decade back. But interestingly, farmers in Kusumkhola VDC were found adapting to climate change through different technique like orange farming, extensive farming, off season vegetable farming and rotational farming and greenhouse mode of farming.
Farmers are happy regarding increase in temperature of the location in compare to 2 decade back as they have irrigation facilities to conduct acceptable and cash crop farming. Also, the poor farmer shared that the rainfall has visibly decreased in 2 decades but oppositely the increase in temperature has made people feel comfort. Warm winters have relived the older farmers for whom working in winter during their young age was very difficult task. Overall, people there have experienced both positive and negative impact of climate change however it is often negative most of time.
Solutions:- The solutions can be growing of resistant crops and varieties against diseases, insects and heat, cultivation of crops during winter seasons also, organic agriculture, crop rotation etc.
Bodhraj Gauchan, a local resident of Jomsom shared his experience regarding the climatic condition now and then (before 2-3 decades). Jomsom is located at an altitude of about 3,500masl and is the headquarter of Himalayan district Mustang but is doesn’t lie in leeward side so it receives some amount of rainfall and is suitable for cultivation of Barley and vegetables like cucumber, bean, tomato, pumpkin and chilly. In the low land, rice, maize, wheat and vegetable farming is common while maize farming is the main agricultural activity along with milk selling and livestock raising. He also felt shorter and heavy rainfall which used to be seen some 20 years ago was missing in the present time. He complained about frequent occurrence of drought for longer time in compare to past. He also added that if he had irrigation facilities, he would have combat with any climate change problem like decreased rainfall or increased temperature.
He shared that snow fall was common before 1 or more decades back and that was acting as the natural killer of the disease but the absence of snow fall since some decades is allowing the same disease in potato to grow and destroy the crop. Similarly, large number of small lakes are being formed in the depressed lands due to accumulation of water melted from the snow.
Climate change is not followed by only negative consequences among poor farmers of Jomsom. Positive impact of climate change includes appropriate environment for cash crop especially vegetable (cabbage) which had no possibility of growing 15-20 years back. Similarly less cold environment during winter has created appropriate environment for the growing of new kind vegetable and cash crops.
Solutions:- The solutions to his problems can be upward shifting of vegetations, agro-ecotourism etc.
Similarities and Difference in Climate Change and adaptions in Terai Vs Hill Vs Mountain
Three case studies have been carried out to study the trend in climate change scenarios and farmer’s adaption pattern between Terai, hillls and upper land mountain of Nepal.
Terai observes relatively less climatic variation in compare to upper land mountain because altitude different is sharp and high in mountain region. Generally terai farmers are found to be suffering of the climate change impact like flood and drought while that of Mountain have benefited from climate change in one way or the other. There are different factors that are acting either facilitator or barrier to combat climate change impacts in Nepal.
The dissemination and adoption of new technologies, agricultural inputs, information and innovations are observed faster and easier in terai region and hilly region in compare to upper land mountain which is dominantly covered with rugged mountains. In Mustang district of Nepal, an example of upper land mountain region of Nepal, Lamas, the traditional fortune teller do weather forecasting and suggest appropriate time schedule for local farmers to start plantation. That hints, enough information and technologies to have access to climate change information is not available in Mountain region.
The planners and farmers stress on different mechanism to fight with climate change change in Nepal. There is need of strong irrigation channel and drainage systems in terai while crop diversification is highly practices in hills and upper mountain region.
The literature review and the discussion with local farmers suggest that the adaptation capacity seems weak and short term and hence I recommend for long term coping mechanisms. Similarly the local and indigenous method of coping with climate change practiced for generations in mountain area can’t be underestimated. In addition, rather than looking as a whole for the the coping mechanisms of other places, Nepal should develop location specific adaptation strategies and encourage sustainable farm management practices and dissemination low cost technologies. And the farmers of respective areas should adopt indigenous methods and techniques to cope with progressive climate change.
Although the case study was completed successfully but there were some problems and limitations that I encountered with. They are presented below in the following points:-
- There was lack of time during the case study. In short duration of time, there was huge amount of work to be done.
- Cases were available in small quantity because of scattered population in the hilly and Himalayan regions.
- There was lack of money for the case study so it couldn’t cover all areas.
Suggestions ad Recommendations
As Climate change is a result of excessive exploitation of environment by humans so humans are facing maximum negative effects from it. So it is duty and responsibility of human to control or minimize it. Although it cannot be brought under control but its effects can be reduced and people somehow can get rid of its detrimental effects by adopting adaptive measures like growing of drought tolerant crops and varieties, growing location specific crops, minimum tillage, crop rotations, composting, mulching, organic agriculture etc.
- Malla, “Climate Change and its Impact on Nepalese Agriculture,” The Journal of Agriculture and Environment 9 (June 2008)
- Gum, W., Singh, P. M., & Emmett, B. (2009).CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY AND ADAPTATION IN NEPAL. (W. Gum, Ed.) Lalitpur, Nepal: Oxfam International.
- Howden, M. S. (2007). Adapting agriculture to climate change.National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America .
- Tiwari, K., Balla, M., & Pokharel, R. R. (2012).Climate Change Impact, Adaptation Practices and Policy in Nepal Himalaya. UNU-WIDER. Helsinki: United Nations University.