Commentary: Save agriculture from climate crises « Khabarhub
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Commentary: Save agriculture from climate crises

21 July 2022  

Time taken to read : 8 Minute

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KATHMANDU: “At a time when the farmers in Tarai/Madhes, which is also called the granary of Nepal, are ready for paddy plantation, the scant rainfall has afflicted them much.

So far, the paddy is planted only in 57 percent of arable land in Madhes Province.”

It was a news story under the title ‘Scant rainfall frets farmers in Madhes’, the Rastriya Samachar Samiti disseminated on July 19.

It was reported from Janakpurdham. The news further said- It is time almost all districts in the province got over with the paddy plantation.

The farmers in Madhes shared the plight that the rainfall did not occur for more than two weeks, resulting into scorching heat and the rice seedling getting wilted.

Not only in Tarai/Madhes but also the farmers in some parts of the hilly region are desperately waiting for the rainfall for paddy plantation.

One after another, the farmers are facing several problems relating to the cultivation for long.

As in the previous years, the stories of acute shortage of chemical fertilizers in different parts of the country hit the national media this time too.

In the meeting of the federal parliaments, the lawmakers raised voices and concern over it, but many farmers had to conduct paddy plantation without the essentials.

To the sheer failure of the government to ensure smooth supply of chemical fertilizers on time, the farmers in Dhading district had seized the consignment- packs of fertilizer while it was being ferried.

Nearly 400 farmers waited for the trucks on the road, and as they arrived, they took the vehicles under control and took away the fertilizers.

It was a broad day light incident occurred in the second week last month.

Needless to say, agriculture contributes hugely to country’s GDP, and among the products, rice is the staple.

But, the problems ranging from shortage of chemical fertilizers, improved seeds, and tools are always the news.

Similarly, the farmers are in desperate need of up-skilling on agriculture to modernize it.

Lack of market and failure to attract educated youths to agriculture equally draw the attention.

Most worrying at present is the climate crises, as the experts have argued, to render adverse impact on Nepal’s agriculture.

The absence of rainfall in Madhes Province for two weeks and the downpour in other parts is related to the climate change.

When asked why the rainfall did not occur in the time it used to, climate change and watershed expert Madhukar Upadhya responded, “It is because of the changed pattern of rainfall which however has occurred for some years in Nepal. The rainfall is concentrated somewhere while it is scant and almost absent in other places. It is climate change effect.”

With the change in rainfall pattern, there are localized rainfalls. There are untimely, unseasonal rainfalls- scant and cloudburst- all these are related to extreme climate events resulting to huge loss.

Last year, the paddy cut down and laid in the field to dry up for harvest in the western belt of Nepal was damaged due to unseasonal rainfall.

Expert Upadhya expressed worry why the law and policy makers egregiously ignored agriculture in terms of dealing with climate crisis.

He reminds, “Agriculture sector was ignored by the government for long though it was/is the hardest hit area due to climate change.”

He even reminded that the Environment Ministry was the sole government agency to look after the climate change issues till recent years.

“I was astonished to know that the officials in the Agriculture Ministry were not involved in the climate change adaptation process including the voices raised in the international forum like COP till some years back,” he observed.

In his observation, the government had to intervene in the very beginning to save agriculture.

“Although there is no immediate solution to this crisis, the three-tiers of government must be equipped with knowledge and skills on time to mitigate the impacts. Capacity building of local levels is imperative,” he underscored.

Once the government documents relating to the climate change and its adversity are observed, agriculture is included and given priority at present.

At the same time, dearth of financial and technical capacities of Nepal to deal with climate crisis is mentioned and assistance expected from the international community.

But, the climate change has already been a global phenomenon. Even the developed countries are now undergoing tremendous crisis.

It is reported that Europe has lost more than 1,000 lives due to heat waves and fire.

On July 18, the CNN tweeted: ‘One of the UK’s largest airports has suspended flights amid reports of “melting” runways, as temperatures soared up to about 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in some parts of the country.’

As Nepal is suffering the melting snow in its Himalayas for more than a decade, the UK is now suffering the melting runways/airport.

The rise of temperature has resulted in such crisis. Irrespective of the geographic variation and national strength, the callous treatment of climate change is upon the entire humanity.

Coming to the issues of agriculture in our country again, farming is Nepalis’ major occupation.

Nepal is still called an agricultural country though the contribution of agriculture to GDP is reducing gradually.

And, once the production of rice, major staple in the country, is badly affected by the climate crisis, it is high time all stakeholders including policy makers and entire people became aware on time and mitigate the impacts.

Nepal used to export rice as recent as two and half decades back, but it is being imported now.

Although the productivity is said to be increasing in Nepal, the production of rice is declining.

The case of the dearth of rainfall in Madhes for more than two weeks is a case in point.

But, such warnings were already there in the country- whether it was the Melamchi floods or rains occurring in the upper belt of Manang and Mustang area last year.

Why we failed to equip farmers with knowledge and skills to adapt to this crisis is a serious question.

Expert Upadhya adds, “Issues of climate change was concentrated more on melting of snow for long in Nepal, while agriculture in the hills and southern plains got the attention too late.”

Undoubtedly, ignorance to agriculture would cost a lot to Nepal. Food security will loom large in the immediate future. So, we have no option but to save agriculture from climate crisis.


Publish Date : 21 July 2022 12:52 PM

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