Nepal Farmers Face One other Yr of Agricultural Drought, Threatening Meals Safety — International Points


Kul Bahadur Pulami Magar at his dwelling in Majhitar village in Dhading, knitting a fishing web. Whereas weaving to create the fishing web, he shared his anguish about how winter drought affected his household. Credit score: Tanka Dhakal/IPS

by Tanka Dhakal (kathmandu)Tuesday, February 13, 2024Inter Press Service

In her village in Dhanusha, one of many agricultural hubs within the southern plains of Nepal, farmers principally rely on rain as a supply of irrigation. Nevertheless, they’re going through yet one more yr of drought, affecting winter crops, together with wheat, mustard, lentils, and greens.

They’re presently going through one other yr of a protracted winter drought, notably within the Terai area, the place a prolonged drought throughout the monsoon season severely affected the manufacturing of the principle meals crop, rice. Khatun was ready for rain within the third week of July to plant a paddy. “We’re affected by drought,” she mentioned at the moment whereas pointing to her dry agricultural area. Farmers like her are going through the results of extended drought in each the monsoon and winter.

The winter drought is harsh not solely in Terai but additionally for farmers within the mid-hills and mountainous areas.  Kul Bahadur Pulami Magar (68) from Jwalamukhi-1, Dhading, shouldn’t be in a position to develop wheat due to the drought.

“It is the second yr in a row that we’re not in a position to develop wheat and different winter crops.”

Farmers within the mid-hills like Dhading primarily rely on rainfall for irrigation, however lately, they’ve been experiencing a change within the rainfall sample within the monsoon and drought within the winter.

In line with the Division of Meteorology and Hydrology (DHM), in 11 of the final 17 winters (December to February), there was lower than the minimal rainfall, and 7 winters skilled drought affecting agricultural actions. Although seasonal forecasts mentioned in any other case, this yr’s winter rainfall didn’t occur when farmers wanted it probably the most. In line with the DHM knowledge from December onwards, there may be practically no rainfall; solely 7.5 millimeters of rainfall had been obtained (till February 11), whereas the common for the winter season is 60.1 millimeters.

“A chronic winter drought will certainly have an effect on crops, finally altering meals safety,” mentioned Bibhuti Pokhrel, head of the Local weather Change Division on the DHM. “The previous couple of winters have gotten drier, and we will see local weather change elements too.”

Agricultural Drought

Frustration is rising amongst farmers like Khatun and Pulami Magar attributable to adjustments in rainfall patterns and their affect on crop yield, a priority shared by consultants. Dr. Hemu Kafle says, “Farmers are trapped in conditions the place they don’t get sufficient rain once they want it.”

In recent times, there was a development of extended winters with out precipitation, impacting manufacturing.

Kafle, whose analysis focuses on drought and desertification, notes that farmers are experiencing “Agricultural Drought” extra regularly, particularly in winter. She explains, “There may be traditionally low snowfall within the excessive mountains, and rainfall shouldn’t be close to taking place within the mid-hills and Terai, straight affecting the socio-economic facet of our society.”

Often, March to Might is the dry season in Nepal, making winter precipitation essential to take care of moisture. “As a result of there isn’t any rain for a very long time in winter, it will make our soil drier, and the vulnerability of farmers will enhance.”

In line with the Worldwide Heart for Built-in Mountain Improvement (ICIMOD), mountain peaks within the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) area, which incorporates 8 nations, together with Nepal, are experiencing a really uncommon winter with little or no snowfall all through the area. In a current assertion, ICIMOD mentions, “Farmers are understandably involved, as low snowfall has a direct and extreme affect on agriculture. That is notably acute for the HKH area, which is closely depending on agriculture.”

Researchers like Kafle worry it may very well be a sign of a “famine” down the road, stating, “We’re observing a dry spell for a very long time throughout farming, which is inflicting agricultural drought and should alter our meals cycle.”

Low-Water-Intensive Crops and Farming Strategies To Adapt

Knowledge from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock additionally means that the productiveness of wheat is decrease in drought years.

Dr. Tika Bahadur Karki, Senior Scientist on the Nepal Agriculture Analysis Council (NARC), says it’s evident that the winter rainfall sample shouldn’t be in favor of farmers.

“It’s turning into routine that farmers usually tend to not get sufficient precipitation when their crops want it,” crop scientist Dr. Karki mentioned.

“Winter rainfall is pushed in direction of the tip of the season, all of sudden. However farmers want not less than three rainfalls in winter.”

At NARC, a workforce of scientists is attempting to find out crop planting occasions that can coincide with altering rain patterns and develop low-water-intensive crop varieties.

“In our experimental farming, the place we do not dig soil that a lot, yield is excessive as a result of we’re in a position to preserve soil moisture,” Karki defined. “If this method is prolonged to the farmers, manufacturing is probably not affected a lot even in drought.”

However the issue shouldn’t be having a devoted technique to channel climate and scientific information to the farmers. “We are attempting to investigate current years’ climate patterns and what it means for agriculture,” Sabnam Shiwakoti Aryal, Joint Secretary and Spokesperson on the Ministry, mentioned.

“We additionally acknowledge that scientific information must be accessible to farmers.”

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal supply: Inter Press Service

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