0544 GMT December 17, 2017
The chiefly agrarian population of Nepal has started feeling the effects of climate change with reductions in crop yields due to the changing climatic pattern. There is a strong need to adapt with changing pattern and customize agricultural practices accordingly to avoid the risk of food insecurity, Phys.org reported .
A recent article in the Agronomy Journal of Nepal discusses ways to cope with such changing climate patterns. Dr. Mina Nath Paudel, principal scientist at the National Agriculture Genetic Resource Center, Nepal, analyzed the climatic pattern of 10 years' meteorological data of Kakani in the high hills and Dhangadhi in the southern plains for maximum and minimum temperatures, total rainfall and the number of rainy days in a year. The assessment found a significant rise in both minimum temperature and the maximum temperature. The assessment showed a clear change in Nepal's climatic pattern.
History has shown that changed climatic pattern largely reduces crop yield globally and in Nepal. For example, weak monsoon rains resulted in a huge reduction in crop production in the South Asian region in 1987. Likewise, the severe winter cold wave in Nepal in 1998 hugely impacted agricultural production by reducing yields of potato (27.8 percent), leaf mustard (36.5 percent), mustard seed (11.2 percent), lentil (37.6 percent), and chickpea (38 percent), according to Nepal Agriculture Research Council. Similar impacts were observed in other regions of the world.
Rice and wheat are the two major crops of Nepal, and their yield largely depends on the rainfall pattern. Much of the lifestyle and cultural practices in Nepal revolve around sowing, transplanting, harvesting and consuming rice. However, rice production has been continuously decreasing in the past few years.
"Rice needs to be transplanted within the month of June for best yield. If it is delayed, the yield will reduce at the rate of 50kg per hectare every day," says Dr. Paudel. "But, I haven't found rice being transplanted on time for the past 10 years due to delayed rainfall."
The delayed rainfall followed by the delayed rice transplantation not only reduces the yield but also disturbs the whole cropping cycle.
Paudel explained, "Solar radiation moves north from Sept. 23, and rice should have flowered by Oct. 15. After that, the temperature starts going down and the yield also starts going down. Moreover, the delay in rice harvest delays wheat plantation" which also affects reduction in wheat yield.
"Wheat should be planted by Nov. 15 and harvested before March for best yield. When the rice harvest is delayed, wheat plantation is delayed and it cannot start flowering until March. The rise in temperature reduces wheat yield," he adds.