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Agriculture - soon a key component in Nepal's climate change agenda?

Researchers Chase Sova and Prajwal Baral got the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister of Nepal, where they reinforced the need to consider agriculture as a key component of the climate change agenda. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)
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By Chase Sova

Persistence and diversification. Oddly enough, these two themes prove common between successful climate change adaptation, as well as getting to meet the Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. Baburam Bhattarai. At least, this is the light-hearted lesson that The Adaptation to progressive climate change- and Oxford University Research Team drew from their recent meeting with the Prime Minister in early August.

Researchers Chase Sova and Prajwal Baral got the exclusive opportunity to sit down with the Prime Minister at his home office in BaluwaChase Sova and the Nepalese Prime Minister Mr. Baburam Bhattarai. Photo: Baraltar, Kathmandu to discuss the climate change agenda within his administration. The meeting came at the end of one month of nearly 100 in-depth-interviews across Nepal’s climate change and agricultural sectors, including many members of Bhattarai’s government. 

The chance to meet the Prime Minister doesn’t come by very often, and therefore both researchers took the opportunity to brief him on the research activities carried out by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). At present, this includes a team of Oxford PhD researchers moving between the Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, and the southern district of Rupandehi (near the border of India) piloting CCAFS climate analogue tool and Farms of the Future program

Considered to be Nepal’s most highly educated leader to date, Bhattarai’s reputation is certainly merited. He recalled during the talk his recent trip to Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 sustainability conference, where he played an important role as spokesperson for developing nations, reflecting Nepal’s current position as chair of the least developed countries (LDCs) in that forum. He expressed that given Nepal’s minimal contributions to emissions, that the climate change “paradigm” in the country is very different when compared to industrialized nations. He referred to the commonly cited ‘pillars’ of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - to suggest that Nepal will face the greatest challenge in navigating the social and economic pillars in the face of climate change. 

The Prime Minister also spoke of the worrying indications of snowmelt in the high-mountains and deviations of rivers in the mid-hills region of Nepal, even going as for to inquire why the research team had chosen the Terai plains for their research given these pressing challenges. Chase Sova responded by indicating the potential ripple effects that a loss of agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods could have on Nepal’s largely agricultural based economy. He stressed the need for research in each of Nepal’s diverse ecological regions, including the Terai “breadbasket”, reinforcing the need to consider agriculture as a key component of the PM’s climate change agenda. Seeing as the researchers had the opportunity to direct these recommendations to the highest political level, CCAFS hopes the Prime Ministerwill  take these considerations to heart for future climate change discussions. 

Read more about the Farms of the Future project: "One man's future is another man's present: Farms of the Future hits Tanzania", on CCAFS blog.

This blog post was written by Chase Sova, visiting researcher based at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). To get more updates on our work, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @Cgiarclimate.