Monthly Archives: July 2014
Climate change impacts and adaptation: Story from my Nepalese village
Farming Landscape in Nepal

A nepalese farming landscape. Farmers living among the hills are facing multiple challenges due to climate change. Photo: Crop Trust

This story won the CCAFS open blog competition for the South Asia region.
Blog post Source :CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security 


Madan Poudel, a youth agriculture activist and student from Nepal, is feeling the heat in his village. This is his personal story on how climate change is affecting his community, and how farmers are trying to adapt to an increasingly variable climate.

Agriculture has always been the art of managing uncertainties and adapting to changing scenarios especially on the smallholder farms in Nepal. Syangja, where I was born, is mountainous district characterized by steep slopes, deeply dissected by rivers and streams.

Farming communities comprise a high percentage of low income households solely reliant on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihood.

I belong to an agrarian family where farming had been followed by many of my ancestors and is still a major source of income. I have to go to my village to help my parents with cultivating and harvesting rice and other field crops. Beside field crops my district is famous for citrus, coffee and ginger production.

I am currently pursuing my graduation in agriculture. When I started my Bachelor’s level study I became more aware about climate change issues. It became vivid to me that there were lots of changes in Nepal and the agriculture sector, created by a changing climate.

When I ask my grandparents about the timing of cultivating rice, they replied to me that the timing of planting crops is now shifting with onset of rainfall. Whenever I go to the village and have discussions with the villagers about agriculture practices, I feel different scenarios of climate change and its impacts in agriculture.

Increasingly variable climate calls for adaptation

There is decreasing frequency but increasing intensity of rainfall during summer while delays or complete absence of rain in the winter. The mountainous regions suffer from high exposure of natural disasters such as floods and landslides, erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged drought and hailstorms.

Farming in very difficult conditions, often with small fragmented land holdings and no proper irrigation forced farmers to become dependent on rainfall and precipitation for agriculture practices.

On top of that, we are seeing how crop production is changing. Oranges are ripening in October, when in previous years, it used to be December. Mustard was successfully sown in late September but now it needs to be planted in early- to mid-September to produce the same yield.

To cope with a changing climate, farmers are beginning to substitute rice crop in khet land (irrigated) with crops that are less water demanding, such as finger millets and wheat.

There are other adaptation activities being carried out by local farmers to increase productivity of crops and mitigate against the climate change impacts. Mixing cropping system is being introduced to reduce the risk of complete crop failure due to drought or untimely heavy rainfall. For example maize with beans, coffee and citrus, grass and cardamom being planted at the edge of terrace field to stabilize the soil and reduce risk of soil erosion and land slides.

Youth clubs, women’s groups, community groups along with District Development Committees have been working to achieve mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts through awareness programs like local seed saving programs, community forest program and women empowerment programs.

Women and elders left to farm as others seek opportunities elsewhere

When I was studying in primary school, there were lots of villagers engaged in farming, but the scenario is quite different now. Women, children, the elderly and a few youths are left behind as the rest of the villagers leave to seek better opportunities in cities and foreign countries.

This even changed the landscape of my village, where agricultural land is being turned into barren and forrested areas.

Women are more vulnerable to climate change impacts. A plan of action should focus for mitigation and adaptation measures building their capacity to combat climate change impacts.

A call to action for Nepal’s farmers

For now, farmers of mid hills in Nepal must take the lead. They are on the front line. They make everyday observation and their lives and livelihood of their families are completely dependent on farming. There are plenty of challenges ahead. To cope with climate change impacts a concrete plan of action with input from the farmers is very necessary.

Image Credit : Crop Trust

Call for articles: Nutritional values and family farming

Submission Deadline : 1 September 2014

We are told of the great advances that have been made in ‘modern’ agriculture in the last 60 years. Yet there are more hungry and malnourished people on our planet today than in the whole history of humanity. The solution, according to many, is to push ever harder to increase and intensify food production using any means at our disposal –more agrochemical inputs, GM crops, and even converting more rainforest to farmland. And while agricultural policies are directed towards cash crops, the income that this generates for rural people rarely covers their food needs.

The world produces more than enough calories to feed everyone, and other important issues are at stake. Social inequity, inequality, inefficiency, waste, environmental degradation and biased global economic policies are but a few. Moreover, feeding the world is not just about ensuring that there are enough calories; the quality and variety of food are equally important. It is time to start looking at food and nutrition from a different perspective: the focus should shift from food security to food sovereignty and nutrition security.

The roots of agriculture lie in the need to feed one’s family. But at a global scale, family farmers are being marginalised, although they produce most of the world’s food. Why? Is it because most of the food they produce is consumed directly or only passes through short value chains that do not enrich large corporations? Large-scale production increases, while more people go hungry than ever before, especially in rural areas. At the same time more people are also becoming obese than ever before, and let us not forget the ‘hidden hunger’ resulting from diets deficient in micronutrients, such as vitamin A or iron.

The last issue of Farming Matters for 2014 will focus on how family farming and agroecology support the nutrition of family members and the wider community. How and why does it achieve this? What concrete examples do we have that show the links? Have you come across families or villages that succeed in having a healthy diet whereas others in similar circumstances do not? We also want to look at nutritional challenges. Do farming families face (hidden) hunger or malnutrition? Is this problem declining or increasing? What are the deeper causes and how can they be addressed? What are your observations about changing food patterns due to changing lifestyles, and the nutritional consequences? Lastly, we are interested in your stories about efforts to (re)create food cultures, to (re) build respect for local food as an intrinsic part of an agroecological lifestyle, and to (re)create more direct linkages between food producers and consumers.

Send you articles of   500-1500 words long including  a personal story to  [email protected]

Guide for Authors

Post Source : Agricultures Network

ICT-a major breakthrough in agriculture

The government while presenting its policies and programmes last week, announced “a decade of agriculture revolution”. This news was quite catchy; at least they are doing something to drag the agricultural outcome out of misery. So, the plan is to prioritize contract farming, promote farm mechanization and cooperative-based farming to enhance production, quite impressive. But there’s something that is really missing in this policy. Had there been the commitment for “promotion of ICT in agriculture”, somewhere in that policy, it would have added glitter to the gold. ICT (Information and communication technology) plays more than a role of an extension staff when it comes to agriculture. And the best thing about ICT is its rising access to the public. Even at the far-flung regions of the country in recent years, people are privileged with mobile phones, radios and television services. But the disappointing fact is that the government and the concerned ministry are still quite unable to unravel the potential of ICT. ICT promotion has never been a major agenda for the enhancement of agriculture in our country so far, while other agro-based countries have increased their pace of development of agricultural sector via ICT promotion. India, for example, has already tasted a bite of the success through ICT culture in agriculture in recent years.

ICT in agriculture Nepal

Amidst the exodus, where the country is suffering landslide brain drain with around 1400 youngsters leaving the country each day, in pursuit of secure future, we are losing human resources along with the prodigious talents at the same time. ICT, at this chaotic situation, could act as a mentor for the farmers left in the country to carry out nitty-gritty agricultural operation in a very effective way. It has been a couple of decades since the information and communication technology was introduced in Nepal, not a very long time though, but the exponential growth of it has helped to flourish these communication medias all over the country and have become dearer to public from child to the older one. The pace of this technology has already outrun the era where one had to stand on a line of even hundreds, sometimes, to make a phone call or had to gather at the house of so-called mukhiyas to watch a favourite program on TV, or wait for reply of a letter for months from their dearer ones. These days one can simply dial the keys on the mobile phone taking out of the pocket to contact anyone s/he cares or wait for Skype to connect to the computer on the other side. Television and radio service along with internet facilities are something that people take for granted these days. These communication tools have gained sensational popularity among general public.

Analyzing ICT out-reach

It was 1950, when the radio Nepal, the first radio broadcast of Nepal was established (“Seven Decades of Radio Listening in Nepal” by Shekhar Prajulee). ‘Awaj’ the first daily news paper of Nepal was published in Falgun 8, 2007 from Kathmandu. Television in Nepal started with the establishment of Government owned ‘Nepal Television’ in January 1985. According to the Nepal Telecommunication Authority MIS May 2012 report, there are 7 operators and the total voice telephony subscribers including fixed and mobile are 16,350,946 which give the penetration rate of 61.42%. The fixed telephone service account for 9.37%, mobile for 64.63%, and other services (LM, GMPCS) for 3.76% of the total penetration rate. Similarly, the numbers of subscribers to data/internet services are 4,667,536 which represents 17.53% penetration rate. Most of the data service is accounted by GPRS users. Twelve months earlier the data/internet penetration was 10.05%, thus this represents a growth rate of 74.77%.
As of 30 September 2012, Nepal has 1,828,700 Facebook users. According to 2011 census, the percentage of households possessing radio was 50.82%, television 36.45%, cable TV 19.33%, computer 7.23%. According to the Press Council Nepal, as of 2012 there are 2038 registered newspapers in Nepal, among which 514 are in publication. Nearly 350 FM radio stations are in operation in the country. Of all the media, radio has the largest coverage and reaches the largest number of rural people. In essence, the literacy rate has reached 65.9% which could further affect the successful spreading of these communication tools. It’s just a matter of years now, that this technology will penetrate every nooks and corner of the country.

Transforming agriculture through ICT

While debating about the issues in agriculture, middleman often gets in the middle of it. And obviously market these days has been a safe haven for clique of the middleman who indulges himself in the lucrative business, depriving both farmers and the consumers of fair price. Government, each year, declares to distribute tons of fertilizers and seed to the farmers for free but just a handful of farmers get the opportunity to pack some sacks to their fields while the middleman, out of nowhere, manages to hide away the other bundles of these free products and sales with hefty price tags on it. Sarcastically, unless these middlemen get into their business the yields at the farmer’s fields get rotten, since the communication of those farmers with the market is very poor. There appears to be a colossal sink hole as a communication gap. Whether it is the farmers and the consumers or the government and the farm owners, the connection is nominal.

ICT in Agriculture Nepal

[Picture source :Anish Shrestha @ Krishi Ghar . Krishi Ghar established library and information center in Kavre district providing services to rural farmers]

Bewildered farmers out there seek to get some knowledge about these changing patterns of climate, they want somebody to tell them what’s going on, why the monsoon this year arrived late, why they are left behind with a very little amount of what they deserve, why they are unable to harvest the amount of their sweats. They want somebody to teach them how to improve the yield, how to cope these changing patterns of seasons, how to get started with, say, mushroom culture or poultry farm or establish a new orchard or grow vegetable in a commercial way. They want advice but the concerned authority and the government is unable to answer those calls. The government officials assigned for each agriculture office to address the farming community are found to be waiting for the sun to set and doing nothing whereas the farmers are left alone in the fields with the same old traditional methods of farming. There is a dire need of something that could act as a link between these factors. Information and communication technology (ICT), in this regard, could bridge the existing gap between the government, farmers and the consumers.

When a farmer thinks of harvesting the yield after maturity s/he tune in to the weather forecast to harvest it accordingly. Why not to extend this custom? Why not to use the telecom service to render the authentic agri-news at the right time for each of the subscriber? Why not to start a new television channel broadcasting agricultural news 24/7 or publish a couple of separate pages in the newspaper? Hotline number service for farmers like that of telecom service could be effective. Farmer could be benefitted not just with the weather knowledge but also with the other myriad knowledge of agricultural operations like, amount of fertilizer that should be applied, time and method of application, irrigation techniques, and feasibility of certain vegetation in the respective region. Moreover, farmers could detect the market price of different products in no time. Only if they are provided with right information at right time, the existing obstacles in agriculture could be mitigated. And the solution lies within the effective use of ICT. Messaging services or phone call to a hotline number could be used as an interactive tool to address the problems of these farmers. This culture of interaction between the consoler and general public via telephone or messaging has already proven to be quite effective. To take few as an example, Hello sarkar, 197, dial 100 along with other services have already proved their feasibility to some extent. And recently some new innovations in ICT culture like an android app called IFA-Krishi Nepal and an instant messaging service called “HATH HATH MA SUCHANA” provided by Krishi Ghar have been introduced which has been viewed as a potential innovation to interact with the farmers. These types of innovations should be provided with funding and encouraged in the future. The effective use of these communication tools like the SMS service, Skype, android apps, Facebook, blogs, hotline number, and online services in delivering agro-based messages could fulfill the slot of desperately migrating manpower and could help eventually reach the apogee of contemporary farming.
If the country is to bring a real change in agricultural sector it needs to act in collaboration with these communication Medias and of course the youths and build up a solid bond between researchers, innovators and the farmers, delivering each of the feasible innovations from these skilled personnel from the research labs to the field through ICT. Declaring “decade of agriculture revolution” won’t just help to bring about a revolutionary change in agriculture, we need to put all the efforts and leave no stone unturned to reach the motto. So, it’s high time that the definition of agriculture should be transformed to agri-ICT-culture.

ECO-TOURISM AND ITS NEED IN NEPAL

“Nepal is a country in the south east Asia very rich in natural beauty and bio-diversity.” This is one of the most familiar sentence for students, especially for the secondary level students of Nepal. Truly does this sentence hold relevance for present Nepalese scenario? Being ranked as 25th richest country in the world and 11th richest country in Asia in terms of biodiversity and the presence of wide variability of land forms and climatological regions within a small area, there is rarely any arguments on truth of above sentence.ecotourism ghorepani

“Ecological tourism”, or “ecotourism” as defined by IUCN‟s Ecotourism Programme is “environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features — both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations” .It can also be defined as “Travel to enjoy the world’s amazing diversity of natural life and human culture without causing damage to either”. Tourism industry is one of the ever expanding industry in Nepal. The number of tourists visiting Nepal annually is estimated to be around 0.8 million (2012 A.D). Tourism has provided employment to more than 5 millions of people and it is contributing 2% on National GDP( CBS 2012 A.D). However there are many negative impacts of tourism industry on environment as well. for e.g. In addition to being the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest has been labeled “the world’s highest junkyard” due to the amount of kit, rubbish, waste and even bodies left on its slopes. Indeed, various cleanup expeditions have been mounted over the years even venturing into the treacherous “death zone” – to remove polluting waste from the mountain. The establishment of the hotels, lodges and resting sites in the tourist destination areas (esp. in the trekking areas) has led to rapid deforestation and pollution. This is where the need of Ecotourism arises in Nepal. Ecotourism involves the responsible travelling to areas conserving the environment and improving well being of local people.

The Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP) is an initiative of the Government toward Ecotourism in Nepal working on principle of sustainable eco-tourism with technical and financial support from various international development agencies and non government organizations. Nepal recently celebrated Visit Nepal Year 2011, but the saddest part is most of the remote parts with huge potential in tourism development were completely unknown about the campaign launched by the government and most of these areas were using the board of Visit Nepal year 1998 for attracting the tourist in the area. The foremost requirement for the publicity on tourism is the development of much lagging infrastructures in the country; proper road, drinking water and sanitation. As the infrastructures are developed, the flow of investment increases. When the number of tourist increases, the eco tourism-based economy has to be increased and attention must shift to sustained public action. With the environmental hazard increasing at alarming rate and the richness in biodiversity holding huge potential for tourism development, the sustainable Ecotourism should be the plan Nepal should look forward to.

About half a million youth leaving for abroad in quest of so called better job oppurtunities, it would be a huge boost for Nepalese economy if government would be able to attract the youth towards eco-tourism. As ecotourism helps in promoting the local industries, it thus provides abundant business and employment oppurtunities to the young generation. Youth participation in the promotion, management and maintainence activities in the local community will enhance the success rate of eco-tourism. These youth activities may increase the flow of tourists in their communities. Tourism brings technologies, foreign currency and other expenses along with the tourist. Thus Eco-tourism helps in bridging the gap between modernized areas and small local tourism potential areas in which the youth have the foremost role.

As youth are labeled as the most energetic age group, they must lead from the front in all of the developmental works in the country and Eco-tourism sector is no exception. The youth should have deep knowledge on area, flora, fauna, culture, lifestyle and tradition of the potential areas. In considering the development of tourism on particular location, one should not forget the existence of local inhabitants who depend upon the natural resources of the area for survival. So the relationship between the local people and the environment should be kept on mind while conducting the developmental works.

Youth can be involved in promoting the environmental and cultural awareness and raising awareness on the political, environmental and social issues of the locality.

The promotion of the local potentially rich eco-tourism sites is crucial, especially among the youth as this age group has the special power to link the needs of the present generation with the future generation. The youth should bear responsibility to preserve the quality of the environment in order to develop self sustained economy without compromising with the needs of future generation.

Image Credit : Sujan Paudel | Ghorepani Treking Route