15/10/13

Nepal’s shifting rains and changing crops

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[KATHMANDU] With weather becoming more erratic every year as a result of climate change, Nepali farmers are progressively shifting their approach, turning vast areas of rice paddies into small-scale vegetable farming. Vegetables are more resilient as they can be hand watered in case of drought. Farmers say that with rains that used to come in April now shifting as late as mid-June, vegetables that can be sown at the time the rains finally fall are now a better investment.

But large parts of their fields now remain uncultivated due to lack of water.

The situation raises concern among experts, who warn that a shift from rice to vegetable cultivation may harm food security. They also say that without adequate support from the government farmers’ livelihood could be at risk. According to researchers, there is now a need for insurance schemes, public subsidies and improved early-warning systems to forecast extreme weather.

Image courtesy of Saleem Shaikh.