Indian farmers adapt to shifting weather patterns

  • Date: 13/12/09

Reuters: As global leaders and top scientists in Copenhagen debate how to deal with climate change, farmers in flood-prone areas of northern India are taking it into their own hands to adapt to shifts in the weather.

For decades, people of Uttar Pradesh, whose population is more than half that of the United States, have been witnessing erratic weather, including increasingly intense rainfall over short periods of time.

The rain, combined with heavy mountain run-off from nearby Nepal, which is also seeing heavier-than-usual rains, has inundated villages, towns and cities in the region.

Such floods have destroyed homes, crops and livestock, highlighting the fact that the poorest in countries such as China and India are most at risk from climate change.

While world leaders in Copenhagen argue over who should cut carbon emissions and who should pay, experts say low-cost adaptation methods, partly based on existing community knowledge, could be used to help vulnerable farmers.

In the fields of Manoharchak village, where terms such as “global warming” are unknown, such experiments are bearing fruit, changing the lives of poor farmers who outsmart nature using simple but effective techniques to deal with rising climate variability.

“For the last three years, we have been trying to change our ways to cope with the changing weather,” said Hooblal Chauhan, a farmer whose efforts have included diversifying production from wheat and rice to incorporate a wide variety of vegetables.

“I don’t know what those big people in foreign countries can do about the weather, but we are doing what we can to help ourselves,” said the 55-year-old from Manoharchak, situated 90 km (55 miles) north of the bustling city of Gorakhpur.

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