Climate change impact on hill agriculture and farmers adaptive strategies – A case study of Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh

This study by Bhoomika Partap and Tej Partap deals with climate change impact on hill agriculture and farmers adaptive strategies.

It takes apple as an indicator crop to investigate the positive and negative effects of climate change on farm economy. The research is a field study to determine the agricultural and socioeconomic impact of climate change on the farmers apple economy of the Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh, India. It attempts to piece together evidence and aims to enhance our understanding of climate change impacts as observed by farming communities at very local levels.

The growing threat of global warming and its effects and prevailing obscurities about the future of agriculture are all addressed in this investigation. It determines the impact of global warming on apple farmers and their farm/household economy in four villages situated at two different locations in Kullu valley, Himachal Pradesh. One was higher up north whereas the other was at the southern end of the valley.

Data was collected by interviewing twenty farmers in each location using structured questionnaires. Further, six key informants consisting of lead farmers and scientists were interviewed and discussions were conducted on the issue.

Any necessary weather data was obtained from two weather stations located in the valley. The findings showed that the apple belt was shifting upwards due to climbing regional temperatures, making the lower parts of the valley unsuitable and the upper valley hospitable for the apple crop.  

This brought a short period of economic decline in the lower valleys, but with government support, the farmers were able to diversify and regenerate their farm economies by introducing new crop varieties into the area. Presently farmers in the upper valley are prospering with the apples.

The future of the world agriculture is unclear as its impacts vary regionally, but it is still not always positive. In order to mitigate climate change from severely hindering such economic activities, actions at all levels – individual, institutional, national and international – have to be taken before it is too late.

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