Annapurna – giver or taker of food?

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Nepal, a landlocked country in South Asia, has 80% of its population involved in agriculture, which makes up almost half of the GDP. Once an exporter of rice, the country is now facing a food deficit (Encyclopedia of the Nations). The recent changes in weather have played a big hand in the destruction of the farmland and the lives of the farmers.

The Nepali government has made efforts to boost agriculture, including deployment of irrigation, improved seed varieties and chemical fertilizers. Yet, the weather decides the fate of the farmers. The region is prone to water-induced hazards, such as huge floods that destroy the crops and take many lives, which are then followed by dry spurts.

Nepal’s Mohare Danda, captured in the pictures above, is a place touted for having the world’s best tracking routes and breathtaking sites. This is the location of Annapurna I, an enormous Himalayan massif 8091m. It is the 10th highest summit in the world and one of the 14 “eight-thousanders“. The name Annapurna in Sanskrit means the giver of food and nourishment (Wikipedia). When the snow in the mountains melts, the mountain water provides nourishment for the crops and Annapurna I truly lives up to its name.

Warmer weather might make that less true, bringing on more avalanches and harder climbing treks, but also floods. More moisture in the air will also bring insects and pests that will harm the land (UCA News).

More robust water management techniques are key to the survival of Nepal’s farmers and the availability of food for its people. Managing water resources is not easy task – it is typically catered to the location and has to be done bearing the natural resources and weather patterns in mind. However, things such as multiple cropping and using local natural products for organic pest controls can be useful tools for farmers. As with anything, education is key and the Nepali farmers need to be taught to be prepared for the imminent future. Without knowing what to do, the Annapurna region might turn into the annihilator of food.

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