Rice is a staple food of the people of Kirtipur Municipality. About 50 percent of the land is under agriculture of which a large part is planted with rice. Rice is a summer crop planted in June & July and harvested in September & October, a period that coincides with monsoon rain providing required water for the crop. Though rice is a water demanding crop, it is grown in Kirtipur as a rainfed crop because there are no reliable water sources for irrigation in most part of the area. In the past few years farmers have not been able to plant rice in normal time because of delayed monsoon. Since paddy needs to be harvested before the temperature begins to drop in September, it must be planted in time so that the crop remains in the field for adequate number of days for a good harvest. Global projections and several studies reveal that the uncertainty in monsoon rainfall patterns especially in south Asia is due to the impact of climate change which has its adverse effects in agriculture.
These changes have been noticed by the farmers of Kirtipur. They realize that there is a decline in rice production due to the changes in rain and temperature. There is a decrease in rice production of up to 30 percent compared to the past production. The farmers have lost production due to delayed rain. Some farmers have lost as high as 50 percent of the production. Rice in Kirtipur is a rainfed crop. In the absence of rain the total crop can fail with no yield at all. Therefore even if other factors such as adequacy of fertilizer, timely weeding, and application of insecticides are equally responsible for a good harvest, water is a prime factor, in absence of which no other inputs for rice is of much value. Farmers in Kirtipur do apply adequate amount of fertilizer, and carry out all other operations of weeding and hoeing, but when the rice land gets dry weed competes with rice more than any other thing taking all nutrients and available moisture.
Who else could be more responsible about the changes taking place but loss is being incurred by the farmers than any others. Farmers have to put extra effort to maintain even for a minimum level of production. Since the farmers in Kirtipur are subsistence farmers they hardly evaluate their farming economically or carry out any analysis of events taking place. They cannot abandon their farms and go elsewhere for other employment opportunity.
The sustainable food cultivation is necessary to maintain food security. But the absence of adequate amount of water at the right time has made rice cultivation increasingly difficult in Kirtipur. The capacity of farmers to continue rice production by adapting to the emerging changes is limited. They have not been able to change their way of planting but to get minimum amount of water and plant rice in time so that incoming rain can support its production. Vulnerability of farmers to such changes depends not only on physical and biological responses but also on socioeconomic conditions. Low-income populations who have no other source of income and are dependent on agriculture are particularly vulnerable to these emerging changes.
Msc environment, Kirtipur 19.