“Bilaudai Hiude Jhari”: Losing the winter rain

“Bilaudai Hiude Jhari”: Losing the winter rain

  • February 2, 2024

The reliance on fossil fuel extraction, exploitation of nature, and monoculture farming systems based on synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides has led to an escalation in greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, there has been a rise in atmospheric temperatures, accompanied by erratic rainfall patterns. This shift in the annual precipitation cycle, notably with reduced winter rainfall, has profoundly impacted agricultural practices.

To address these pressing concerns, an informal discussion was convened by the Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF) in collaboration with Chitwan Kachahari on second of February 2024, in Chitwan. Approximately 20 participants, including experts in climate science, sustainable agriculture, local and national media journalists, and organic farmers, were present.

Dr. Jiwan Kshetry initiated the discussion by highlighting the climate crisis and the changing rainfall patterns, citing the INSO Index. He underscored the alarming increase in temperatures and its correlation with precipitation. Over the past 23 years (2000 to 2023), there has been a significant temperature rise of 1.48 percent. Dr. Kshetry illustrated the devastating impact of such changes, citing the floods in Sikkim last year and attributing these shifts to phenomena like El Niño.

Activist Dr. Krishna Prasad Paudel emphasized that over 50 percent of Nepali farmers still depend on rainfall for agriculture. However, changing precipitation patterns, particularly the absence of winter rainfall, pose a grave threat, potentially leading to severe food crises and increased migration. Dr. Paudel advocated for systemic changes in agriculture to address these challenges.

Chandra Prasad Adhikari, a 66-year-old organic farmer, lamented the disappearance of winter rainfall, which was beneficial for farming. He recounted the struggles faced by farmers, including the drying up of maize crops in Chitwan due to drought. Adhikari stressed the importance of conserving local seeds and traditional agricultural knowledge as essential components of climate-resilient agriculture.

Dr. Ishwari Prasad Kadria, a professor at the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) in Rampur, highlighted the adverse effects of temperature increase on both agriculture and livestock. He noted a rise in cattle infertility and the dwindling of water sources in mountainous regions, which has negatively impacted animal husbandry. Dr. Kadria advocated for the promotion of improved varieties of local seeds and knowledge to mitigate these effects.

Similarly, Dr. Himal Luitel, another professor at AFU, pointed out the escalating cancer rates attributed to increased consumption of chemical-laden food products. He raised concerns about the theoretical focus of agricultural education, advocating for a shift towards more practical, skills-based training.

The discussion concluded with participants like Sagar Karki, Sarita Tiwari, and Pratima Silwal expressing their concerns regarding food security and climate change, underscoring the need for collaborative action and sustainable solutions.