Climate Smart Farming Helping Earthquake-Hit Communities in Nepal

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By Shuriah Niazi

Kathmandu:

Forty-five year old Nirbhaya Sapkota is a woman farmer from Naubise
village, about an hour and a half drive from Nepal’s capital
Kathmandu. Along with other farmers in her village, Nirbhaya has been
using smart climate cultivation methods to combat the adverse effects
of climate change and the water shortage worsened by devastating
earthquake in April this year .

Nirbhaya Sapkote says the methods are already having results.

“Our production has increased after we started using bio-fertilizers
and bio-pesticides, instead of chemical fertilizers. Apart from that,
we have switched over to smart irrigation methods by collecting
wastewater and rainwater in plastic ponds,” said Nirbhaya.

With the help of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Program
(HICAP), farmers are making use of every possible technique to
maintain soil fertility and moisture through crop rotation, mixed
cropping and intercropping.

Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it
comes to climate change.
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Changes in weather patterns and especially rainfall are affecting
small hold farmers, and the problem has worsened after the earthquake
this April. But the farmers are taking the climate change challenge
head on by adopting smart climate-cultivation methods.

Nirbhaya further said increased production means more income for the
family by selling the harvest at the market. As she adopts improved
farming techniques, the crops are also able to withstand fluctuations
in temperature and rainfall.

The climate smart farming initiative is supported by the International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an
intergovernmental research organization.

Through the project, farmers are provided critical information
pertaining to crops through SMS notifications on their mobile phones
in their own language. They also get support for environmentally
sustainable energy use.

Mona Shreshtha was another farmer in Daitar village. She has succeeded
in increasing her output through climate smart techniques.

“We have seen that use of bio-fertilizer had a positive impact on our
yield. Our vegetable production increased after we started using
bio-fertilizers, animal manure and bio-pesticide jholmol, sourced from
crop residue in our farm. Now we no longer use chemical fertilizers.
Thus our savings have also increased,” she added

But the earthquake and several aftershocks in April, which killed more
than 9,000 people and destroyed hundreds of houses, have changed the
life of many farmers.

Yam Prasad Nepal no longer thinks he and his seven-member family can
depend on agriculture alone. They are facing a shortage of water for
farming and drinking after water sources in the district dried up due
to earthquake.

They are now moving towards new agriculture practices that require less water.

Yam Prasad Nepal’s village had plenty of water before the earthquake
Now more than 100 households in the village have to fetch water from a
nearby water source.

“We are waiting for water. We need water for everything, for
agriculture… for cattle…. and also for drinking. If there is no water
then we cannot survive. We don’t know what will happen to us,” he
said.

Ecosystems management specialist with ICIMOD, Laxmi Dutt Bhatta, also
feels that water shortage after the earthquake is adversely affecting
the production in the region.

“There were many villages where water has dried up after the
earthquake. Farming is not possible without water. It is a cause of
concern as without water we cannot think about anything. ” said Laxmi
Dutt Bhatta.

The earthquake has taken its toll on almost every family.

Every year thousands of young men leave Nepal for work mostly to gulf
countries, but the disaster has accelerated this trend.

Forty-five-year old Laxmi Prasad Adhikari is now looking for work as a
labourer in the Gulf region. His family of four is finding hard to
survive. After the earthquake they were only given US$ 150 as initial
compensation. Like others he is still waiting to receive the remaining
compensation of US$ 1850. The government had promised US$ 2000 as
compensation for those who had suffered during the earthquake.

Laxmi Prasad said, “We suffered a lot during earthquake. My house was
damaged. I even lost two of my cattle. Earlier, I used to sell 16-17
liters of milk every day. Now I am left with only 4-5 liters.”

The Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Policy research
(CEAPRED), a Nepal-based NGO, has given a new variety of paddy to
farmers after the earthquake in some villages on experimental basis
which requires very less water and fertilizers compared to other
varieties. Yam Prasad Nepal hopes it will be successful.

“In the village we have received Charuva, a new variety of paddy,
which is showing impressive results with less water. We are waiting
for the final outcome. We hope to grow this variety of paddy as we are
left with no water,” said Yam Prasad.

But farmers are not alone; even children had to suffer because of
earthquake, which destroyed or damaged many school buildings in Kavre
Palanchok district.

Classes resumed after a month or two in temporary structures. Mindful
that students were traumatized and fearful, teachers had to use
counseling techniques so that children could return to their studies.

“All of our school buildings were damaged. It is really difficult for
us to manage now. We are running two classes in a single classroom.
After the earthquake we only received tents and nothing else,” said
Rukhmani Nepali, a teacher in a government school in a Dhaitar
village.

But children are finding it difficult to concentrate on studies
sitting inside the dilapidated schools buildings.

They are hoping that the government would soon help them so that they
can resume their routine studies.

 

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