Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Practices in Agriculture: A Case Study of Rautahat District, Nepal
This study identifies the impact of climate change and adaptation practices on agriculture in the Rautahat district of central Nepal by analyzing the atmospheric temperature, rainfall pattern, soil moisture, and direct field survey. The impact and status of crop production systems are emphasized. Primary data on crop production system were collected through household surveys and adaptation practices in crop production were collected through focus group discussions, key informants' interviews,
... ants' interviews, and direct observations. Time series data on key climatic variables and productivity of major crops were collected from the government sources. Mann-Kendall trend analysis and Sen's Slope methods were used for the analysis and quantification of temperature and rainfall trends. Spearman's rank correlation analysis was performed to find the relation of seasonal rainfall with the crop yields. The study showed that the annual average rainfall was decreasing at the rate of 10.21 mm/year and the annual mean temperature had increased at a rate of 0.02 • C/year over the last 30 years, but their variations were found to be statistically insignificant. Seasonal rainfall also increased, except for the post-monsoon rain. Estimation of Soil Moisture Index through remote sensing technique indicates that it has been reduced considerably over the past 15 years at the beginning of the monsoon. It was observed that farmers have been using different adaptation measures like the use of high-yielding varieties of crops, enhanced irrigation system, switching to hybrid seed, and increased access to pesticides. As a result, the yields of major crops including rice, maize, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, and pulses all showed increasing trends during 1999 to 2014. However, the total costs of production of all crops have increased many fold as a consequence of the cost associated with the arrangements for such adaptation measures and shifts towards market-based commodities. Climate 2016, 4, 63 2 of 22 0.06 • C·year −1 , whereas the rate of global average surface temperature rise within the last century was about 10 times smaller than this [1, 5, 6] . Nepal has been experiencing considerable changes in precipitation patterns as well, which has direct impact on overall agricultural productivity . On the other hand, only 26.5% of cultivable agricultural land in Nepal is irrigated, of which less than 50% land has access to water supply all year round  . As a result, agricultural production depends on favorable weather conditions, mainly in the monsoon time. A late or erratic monsoon quickly translates into crop losses and subsequently into food insecurity. This is the most challenging issue for a country like Nepal where more than 80% of people are dependent solely on agriculture for their livelihood. Being aware of the status of climatic variability, its impact on agriculture production systems, and adaptation practices are all necessary to predict future scenarios and reduce vulnerability.