LCCCRSP: Local communities in Nepal participate in livestock climate change vulnerability study and field tour.
On January 2, 2012, local communities in the Thulokhola watershed in Nuwakot gave the SLPS project research team a heartfelt traditional welcome with garlands and red powder, as well as flowers, fruits, coconuts and water jars adorned with flowers as they proceeded up the hill. The team was first greeted by the local communities at the bottom of the watershed, and then again at a higher elevation as they arrived on a plateau. The research team, which included several Americans, was genuinely and deeply moved by this affectionate welcome to ruralNepal. The SLPS project team consisted of eight scientists and experts: Dr. Durga D Poudel, Soil Scientist/Environmental Scientist, Dr. Griff Blakewood, Animal Scientist, and Dr. Tim Duex, Geologist/hydrologist from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Dr. Ram Pukar Thakur, Veterinary Doctor, NARC; Dr. Kamal Kanta Acharya, Geologist, Tribhuvan University; Mr. Amleshwar Singh, Forest Expert, CARE-Nepal; Mr. Shiva Adhikari, Marketing Specialist, ADBN Ltd; and Dr. Bishnu Chapagain, Agriculturalist, Nyaik Sansar. The main purpose of the team visit was to assess the vulnerability of livestock production to climate change impacts in the watershed.
Within the Thulokhola watershed (the SLPS project site), Community Livestock Groups (CLGs) were divided into six representative focus groups, two at each elevation: lower elevation (< 2600 ft asl), mid elevation (2600 to 3800 ft asl), and the upper elevation (> 3800 ft asl) for interviews with the visiting scientists. The interdisciplinary team climbed about five hours on the 2nd of January, staying in a farmer’s house (3859 ft asl) overnight, then started the livestock climate change focus group meetings as they walked down the hill the next day (the elevation of the Thulokhola watershed extends from about 1470 ft asl to above 5200 ft asl).
The main objectives of the focus group meetings were: 1) documenting the site-specific climate change impacts and the vulnerabilities of the local livestock production system, 2) identifying and assessing coping strategies to climate change impacts on livestock production, 3) assessing the effectiveness of institutional mechanisms in helping producers to cope with climate change impacts, and 4) identifying site-specific short, medium, and long-term livestock climate change adaptation measures for sustainable livestock production in the mid-hills.
Six focus group meetings were completed on Jan 3, 2012; each meeting lasted about an hour. The focus meetings were facilitated to allow every participant to express his or her views clearly. The questions were asked in the same order in each meeting and the time spent in each group meeting was very similar. There was no outside influence on answering the questions asked by experts. Each group member was encouraged to answer all the questions. Each focus group meeting was recorded in duplicate. These recordings are currently being translated and transcribed. A complete report of these sessions will be compiled and published.
On January 4, 2012, the CLGs members participated on a farmers’ tour organized by the SLPS project. A total of 56 participants (21 female and 35 male) visited the Kama Dhenu Gai Palan Kendra in Chyangli, Gorkha. There were two vehicles and a large bus with a banner attached in the front reading “Farmers’ Field Tour organized by the Livestock Climate Change CRSP/USAID Sponsored Nepal Seed Grant Program SLPS project.” These vehicles proceeded as a caravan from the Thulokhola watershed to a modern dairy farm four hours down the road.
Mr. Rajendra Raj Panta, the owner of the Kama Dhenu Gai Palan Kendra, Chyangli, Gorkha, gave a brief overview to the participants explaining how he established the farm and what challenges and opportunities exist on setting up such a farm in Nepal. Mr. Panta holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and started his dairy farm 16 years ago with 5 Holstein and 2 Jersey cows brought in from Silguri, India. The following year, he added another 12 cows; his farm now has 17.5 hectares of land under forages and grasses. In addition to over five thousand mulberry plants, he has 19 different forage species including Napier, paspalums, and melinis. He mentioned that he currently milks about 70 dairy cows and produces 1000-1500 litters of milk daily. The dairy was managed with mostly local materials, human labor, and low-tech mechanization. The CLG members were very happy and excited to learn about the possibilities of a modern farm. A couple of CLG members expressed interest in establishing a similar operation in their region. Mr. Panta advised them to start with 5 dairy cows and be prepared to work very hard. According to him, one person will be able to generate Rs 15-20 thousands of income every month from 5 dairy cows.
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