Adapting to a changing climate

In recent years, Meghalaya has begun to face the effects of climate change. Watch how local farmers have adapted farming techniques and type of crops to accommodate these changes.
Arecanut is susceptible to climate change impact
Arecanut is susceptible to climate change impact

Meghalaya, the wettest place in the world till date, has started facing the consequences of climate change. In the recent past, the state has seen pronounced variability in rainfall. This has given rise to myriad problems in the predominantly agricultural state.

Research has shown that Northeast India, home to about 40 million people, has warmed significantly in the last 10 years and the situation could get worse in the near future. Average temperatures are projected to increase by about 1.7°C in almost all the districts of the Northeast, according to a study conducted by Prof. N. H. Ravindranath from the Indian Institute of Science and supported by KfW Development Bank on behalf of Germany’s Federal Government.

The state's rich natural resources, though high in cash potential, are sensitive to climate change. One of the major cash crops- rice- accounts for over 80% of the total food grain production in the state. Erratic rainfall has disturbed the cultivation schedule in many areas.

Arecanut or ‘Kwai’, as it is called in Khasi, is closely linked with the local culture and is abundantly grown in many parts of Meghalaya, particularly the Garo hills. An important plantation crop, arecanut requires little maintenance and provides a ready market in most areas. Arecanut grown in the state is sold in many other parts of the Northeast and was a preffered crop. However, owing to erratic rainfall, this crop, too has been at the risk of reduced soil moisture and pests, making the farmers more vulnerable.

To combat all these changes, farmers have found ways to adapt. The video below shows just how the people from Ribhoi have embraced these changes.

(The video was made by Usha Dewani as a part of the ICIMOD Media Fellowship 2013)