Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture Introduction Climate change is one of the biggest and urgent issues of the present world and overwhelming scientific consensus is concerned with climate change. The earth’s climate is rapidly changing mainly as a result of increase in greenhouse gases caused by human activities. Over the last 100 years (1906-2005), global temperature has increased by 0. 74??C and it is expected to increase by about 0. 2??C per decade over the next two decade (IPCC 2007). For developing countries like Nepal, it is not just an environmental phenomenon but also an economic, social and political issue.
Nepal is among the most vulnerable countries on earth with regard to climate change however, emission of green house gas in Nepal is very negligible as compared to the developed countries. There are tremendous negative impacts of climate change in Nepal but the level of understanding and awareness on the issue is very limited yet. Climate change already has a measurable impact on many natural and human systems. Climate change scenarios for Nepal showed considerable convergence on continued warming, with country averaged mean temperature increases of 1. 2 ??C and 3 ??C projected by 2050 and 2100 (Shrestha et. al,. 1999).
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Climate change is increasingly accepted as a major issue the Nepalese people are facing. The Initial National Communication of Nepal to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a range of recent studies show that Nepal is highly vulnerable to the potential negative impacts of climate change. These studies have indicated that in Nepal, significant warming particularly at higher elevations will lead to reduction in snow and ice coverage; will create an increase in frequency of climate induced disasters including flooding and droughts; and cause an uneven precipitation distribution over the regional scale (Gum 2009).
In the past decade in Nepal the damage is increasingly evident and has initiated arable land lost to flood and erosion, erratic changes in monsoon, water shortages and drought events; growing threats from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, disappearing forests in some areas; invasion of exotic species, outbreak of diseases, sharp and sustained decline in food security and threats to biodiversity. These climate induced risks and hazards can have wide ranging, often unanticipated, effects on the environment and on socio-economic and development related sectors, including agriculture and ood security, biodiversity, water resources, energy, human health, urban settlement, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (NCVST, 2009; WFP, 2009). There is clear evidence that climate change is already affecting the biodiversity and weakling the livelihood assets of poor and marginalized communities. The Research Problem Climate Change is currently one of the greatest threats to environmental conservation and livelihood security in Nepal. An increased emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is further compounding these problems.
Poor people, women, and marginalized communities are highly vulnerable (OXFAM 2009) to climate change impacts. Due to climate change environment and related sectors including water resources, farming system, human health, terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity are facing various adverse impacts in Nepal. The effects of climate change are expected to deepen poverty and affect livelihoods, assets, infrastructure, environmental resources and economic growth (Gaire et al. 2008). Thus, in order to secure their livelihoods, it is imperative that climate change issues be addresses as a key development concern.
In Nepal lack of research and credible evidence on the impacts of climate change is a major challenge. There is limited understanding on such basic issues as the nature and scale of impacts of climate change on farming system and livelihood aspect including the adaptive strategies. Nepal demonstrates diverse geo-physical and climatic conditions within relatively small areas. It is, therefore, an ideal place to study climate change impacts on natural and socio-economic spheres.
Such a study would contribute towards a better understanding of the intensity and impacts of global changes. The first step in such a study would be to understand existing farming practice in Far-Western of Nepal. Studies on perceptions, local knowledge, and adaptive strategies at the household and community levels, as well as lessons learned, can provide the basis for concepts and methods of assessing climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation on livelihood of the local people. Many climate researchers have confined their studies to the biological and hysical domains, concentrating mainly on representing the response of crops to various changes in climate. However, studies focusing on the socio economic aspects of global climate change are sparse and have almost exclusively restricted their analysis to the impact of environment modifications on agricultural production (Vedwan & Rhoades 2001). Micro-level studies of the impact of climatic variability on farming system and adaptive strategies as well as their consequent response under climatic uncertainty are relatively few at regional level.
This is, therefore, a study of climatic uncertainty and its impact on agriculture especially farming system, in Far-Western part of Nepal. Farmers and rural communities in Nepal and around the world are already adapting to climate change and developing new practices to meet changing circumstances (Bordoni 2009). This research will mainly examine how the existing farming system is changing over period under climatic uncertainty and what adaptive strategies farmers have developed to cope changing climatic scenarios. Questions I seek to Answer with this study
It is important to understand how farmers perceive global climate change and how they are changing their adaptive strategies. .In this context, this study intends to capture the extent of local peoples’ farming practice and perceptions of climate variability and change and the types of adjustments they have made in their farming practices in response to these change. To put in a nutshell, this study will seek to answer the following research questions: ???What are probable impacts of climatic uncertainty on farming system? What is the level of knowledge and farmers’ perception towards climatic variability? ???What are the strategies of the farmers to cope with climate change? Do the farmers have place-specific strategies? If so, what are they? Aim of the Study The main aim of this study will to understand the continuity and change in farming system under the climatic uncertainty in Far-Western Tarai of Nepal. The main questions to be addressed in this study are: ???What type of farming system exists in Far-Western Tarai of Nepal and how climate change is affecting existing farming system? How do farmers perceive climatic variability in regional level? ???What are the adaptive strategies under climatic uncertainty? ???What are the potential climate change impacts and who are the most vulnerable? References Bordoni, Paul. 2009. Climate Change and Agro biodiversity in Nepal: Opportunities to include agrobiodiversity maintenance to support. Nepal’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). Gaire Damodar, Subedi Mukti and Amatya Jyotshna 2008. Impacts Assessment and Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Makawanpur District, Nepal.
A report submitted to Action Aid Nepal , and Women and Child Development Forum (WCDF), Nepal. Gum ,Wayne. 2009 . Even the Himalayas have stopped smiling: Climate Change, Poverty and Adaptation in Nepal. Oxfam International. kathmandu,Nepal IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment Report. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. Initial National Communication, 2004. Initial National Communication to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nation Framework of Convention on Climate Change.
Ministry of Population and Environment and United Nation Development Program. NCVST, 2009. Vulnerability Through the Eyes of Vulnerable: Climate Change Induced Uncertainties and Nepal’s Development Predicaments. Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-Nepal. Nepal Climate Vulnerability Study Team (NCVST). Kathmandu, Nepal OXFAM, 2009. Even the Himalayas have stopped smiling: Climate Change, Poverty and Adaptation in Nepal. Oxfam International,Kathmandu,Nepal. Shrestha, A. B. , C. P. Wake, P. A. Mayewski, and J. E. Dibb, 1999. Maximum Temperature Trends in the Himalaya and its Vicinity: An Analysis Based on Temperature Records from Nepal for the Period 1971 ??? 94? .Journal of Climate, (12) 2775-2789. Vedwan, Neeraj & Rhoades,Robert E. (2001??). Climate change in the Western Himalayas of India:a study of local perception and response. Climate Research 19: 109-117. WFP, 2009. The Cost of Coping. A collision of crises and the impact of Sustained Food Security Deterioration in Nepal. United Nations World Food Progarmme. Nepal Food Security Monitoring System.