Agriculture has always been the art of managing uncertainties and adopting to changing scenarios especially on the small holder farms of mid hill of 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 household solely reliant on natural resources and agriculture for livelihood.
I belong to an agrarian family where farming had been followed by many of my ancestors and is still 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 that there are lots of changes that have created by climate change in an agriculture sector. When I ask my grandparents about time of cultivating rice during their childhood, they replied me that the timing of planting crop
s are shifting with onset of rainfall. Whenever I go to village and have discussion with the villagers about agriculture practices I feel different scenarios of climate change and its impacts in agriculture. Farmers begin to substitute rice crop in khet land (irrigated) with crop which are less water demanding such as finger millets and wheat. Oranges are ripening few months earlier in October in comparison with December in previous years. Mustard was successfully sown in late September but now it needs to be planted in early to mid September to produce the same yield. There is decreasing frequency but increasing intensity of rainfall during summer while delays or complete absence of winter rain. Farming in very difficult condition, often with small fragmented land holdings and no proper irrigation made farmers to be dependent on rainfall and precipitation for agriculture practices.
When I was studying my primary school at my village there were lots of villagers being engaged in farming but the scenario is quite different now. Only woman, children, aged people and few youth are left where rest left the village for seeking opportunities in cities and foreign land. This even changed the landscape of my village, where I find agriculture land being turned into barren and forest area. Its obvious that mountainous region suffers from high exposure of natural disasters such as floods and landslides, erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged drought and hailstorms.
Number of adaptations is being made 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 ex: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 slips. Youth clubs, Women’s group, Community groups along with District Development Committee has been working for mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts through awareness program, Local seed saving program, Community forest program and Women empowerment programs.
Farmers of mid hills must take the lead. They are on the front line, they made everyday observation and the lives and livelihood of their families are wholly dependent on farming. There are plenty of challenges ahead. To cope with climate change impacts a concrete plan of action is felt necessary. Women are more vulnerable for climate change impacts; plan of action should focus for mitigation and adaptation measures building their capacity to combat climate change impacts.