Nepal Farmers Face Another Year of Agricultural Drought, Threatening Food Security — Global Issues
Kul Bahadur Pulami Magar at his home in Majhitar village in Dhading, knitting a fishing net. While weaving to create the fishing net, he shared his anguish about how winter drought affected his family. Credit: Tanka Dhakal/IPS
Kul Bahadur Pulami Magar at his residence in Majhitar village in Dhading, knitting a fishing internet. Whereas weaving to create the fishing internet, he shared his anguish about how winter drought affected his household. Credit score: Tanka Dhakal/IPS
  • by Tanka Dhakal (kathmandu)
  • Inter Press Service

In her village in Dhanusha, one of many agricultural hubs within the southern plains of Nepal, farmers largely depend upon rain as a supply of irrigation. Nevertheless, they’re going through one more 12 months of drought, affecting winter crops, together with wheat, mustard, lentils, and greens.

They’re at the moment going through one other 12 months of a protracted winter drought, notably within the Terai area, the place a prolonged drought in the course of 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 implications 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, isn’t in a position to develop wheat due to the drought.

“It is the second 12 months 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 depend upon rainfall for irrigation, however in recent times, they’ve been experiencing a change within the rainfall sample within the monsoon and drought within the winter.

In keeping 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. Though seasonal forecasts mentioned in any other case, this 12 months’s winter rainfall didn’t occur when farmers wanted it probably the most. In keeping with the DHM knowledge from December onwards, there’s almost no rainfall; solely 7.5 millimeters of rainfall have 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 components too.”

Agricultural Drought

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

In recent times, there was a pattern 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 isn’t close to occurring within the mid-hills and Terai, straight affecting the socio-economic facet of our society.”

Normally, March to Could is the dry season in Nepal, making winter precipitation essential to keep up moisture. “As a result of there is no such thing as a rain for a very long time in winter, it will make our soil drier, and the vulnerability of farmers will enhance.”

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

Researchers like Kafle concern it could possibly 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 will alter our meals cycle.”

Low-Water-Intensive Crops and Farming Strategies To Adapt

Information 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 isn’t 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 top of the season, . However farmers want a minimum of three rainfalls in winter.”

At NARC, a workforce of scientists is making an attempt to find out crop planting instances 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 will not be affected a lot even in drought.”

However the issue isn’t having a devoted technique to channel climate and scientific data to the farmers. “We are attempting to research latest 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 data must be accessible to farmers.”

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