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Scaling up Climate Services for Farmers

Scaling up Climate Services in Nepal in the Context of Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai

Being large number of farmers depending on subsistence agriculture on rain-fed land, Nepal is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change and frequent spells of weather extremes. Unique geographical terrain, insufficient capacity of public institutions and almost absence of early warning system with regard to climate services even intensify such vulnerability of small holder farmers. Although farmers have well adapted through ages of experiences to normal seasonal variation in weathers, they are not sufficiently prepared to cope with recent rapid and erratic climate and weather variability. Effective climate services offering reliable climate information and advisory services to farmers, so that they can prepare themselves for such changes and make informed decisions, are very crucial in this context.

On the one hand, agriculture sector is becoming increasingly knowledge-intensive due to adoption of new-technologies and competitive market structure while on the other hand climate services targeted to smallholder farmers or agriculture sector in general are almost absent in Nepal. Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has mandate to provide climate services to public but information currently being provided are neither targeted to agriculture nor reliable. Ministry of agriculture development also doesn’t seem to have such capacity and institutional focus to provide agrometeorological information to rural smallholder farmers with the goal of increasing agriculture productivity and reducing vulnerability. Although, crop farmers will have more impact and get more benefit from such services than livestock farmers due to difference in technical nature of these two sectors, separate consideration is not required in Nepalese context as crop and livestock are integrated almost everywhere.

Following are some recommendations to improve the quality of climate services for the benefit of smallholder farmers in Nepal.

  • Content, scale, format and timing of climate information should be formulated based upon capacity, characteristics and knowledge base of targeted farmers. It should be always acknowledged that farmers are always more knowledgeable than scientists and extension workers about their agricultural practices and information needs.
  • Climate services should be accessible to farmers with the development of required infrastructure.
  • Design and delivery of climate services should be done in a manner that targeted farmers own them.
  • It should be ensured that women, poor farmers and socially marginalized groups are reached and served as needed.
  • Climate services should be connected and integrated with other extension services. 

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