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FEATURE: Climate Smart Agriculture – using the airwaves for greater outreach

Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) write about the use of radio programmes to get the messages from a CDKN supported project on climate-smart agriculture across to those most at risk in Nepal.

Radio still plays a crucial role in the lives of ordinary Nepalese people and is therefore, a fantastic medium for getting your message across. The CDKN-funded “Scaling-Up Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Nepal” project is planning to produce a series of eight episodes of ‘LI-BIRDko Chautari’ during the project life-cycle to raise awareness among Nepalese farmers of CSA and related technologies. With Nepal at immense risk from climate change, greater understanding is the key for those most at risk.

The project is being implemented by Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), working in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

Three episodes of the radio programme have already been aired through a network of 15 radio stations covering 30 districts of Nepal, with a further five are planned in the very near future. The radio programmes are produced by LI-BIRD in collaboration with Radio Taranga and aired every Friday from 19:15 to 19:30 Nepali time.

Episode 1: Introducing the Project ‘Jalabayu Maitri Krishi Pariyojana’

This episode includes the key project information including its objectives, partnership, funding source, and expected outputs, and includes interviews with the team leader and the research officer.

Keshab Thapa, Team Leader CSA Project, talks about the three main aspects of the programme:

  • The CSA project and definition of CSA with local examples;
  • The districts selected for the project piloting and rationale behind these districts; and
  • The type of CSA technologies the project will identify and test.

He explains the rationale behind these technologies – their dependence on the 4 key pillars of CSA – i.e. food production, adaptation, mitigation, and gender condition and position. He emphasises that the technologies work in combination (not in isolation) to make the agricultural system ‘climate smart’. He goes on to highlight some local practices that have the potential to become part of the CSA framework, such as integrating legumes (rice bean, cowpea, soybean, etc.) into the maize farming system, and integration of fruits and fodder into the agricultural system.

Mr. Surendra Gautam, Senior Research Officer of the project outlines the project inception and an implementation phases along with the project plan of organising a national inception workshop. He also describes the rationale behind the selection of the project villages, including climatic vulnerability, agro-ecology, food security, local initiatives, and existing programs related to Climate Change adaptation.

The episode can be accessed through the following link:

Episode 2: Roof Rainwater Harvesting

In Nepal, rainfall is seasonal, occurring mostly between June to August. However, due to microclimatic variation, the pattern of rainfall differs from one location to another. In order to deal with the water shortage, there are some technologies that are helpful for rural farmers to store water for the dry season – including using rainwater harvesting from the roofs of houses. This episode was adapted from Farm Radio International’s programme on ‘Catch Rain from your Roof’ with examples in the Nepalese context. In includes a interview with CSA project staff of LI-BIRD, and a technical officer of the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), Kaski.

Keshab Thapa, Team Leader CSA Project, explains why the project is important for Nepal; that rainwater harvesting from roofs is a traditional technology, but it has to be adapted in the changing climatic context especially in the areas prone to drought or less rainfall. He describes measures to maintain quality of the harvested water such as avoiding using the water from the first rain of the season, and mixing with tap water to minimise mud collection and algal growth. Mr. Thapa tells listeners that this technology is limited to the household level, and is inadequate at the community level. He goes on to explain that a community approach to harvesting rainwater has huge potential to respond water shortages due to changing rainfall patterns.

Surendra Gautam, Senior Research Officer of the CSA project, speaks on the purpose of harvesting rain water for irrigation, washing clothes, and reducing the workload of the women of the community. He says that it can be a potential CSA technology for cultivating vegetables by women and small holder farmers.

Sukadev Tripathi, Technical Assistant to the project tells the audience that water wastage occurs due to the limited capacity of farmers to harvest water on the small scale. If there is a planned program, he continues, rainwater harvesting can potentially irrigate farmlands during the dry period. The DADO is promoting small scale programme related to this, and the technology has scope, as it is not fuel-based and easy to use.

This episode can be accessed through the following link:

Episode 3: Alternative Wetting and Drying in Rice Farming

This episode includes information related to alternative wetting and drying method of irrigation for rice farming in the context of the Terai Agroecology of Nepal, and how farmers can benefit from using less water for rice farming.

Mr. Pitambar Shrestha, Senior Programme Officer of LI-BIRD speaks at length about this technology. Unlike the traditional method of irrigating rice, the alternative wetting and drying method includes irrigating field (wetting) for few days (one week) and drying for few days (next week) based on the experience of piloting the technology in Agyauli village of Nawalparasi. He emphasises that the technology does not reduce the yield of crop, and farmers can learn more through pilot demonstrations and other means of communication. This technology is part of CSA as it helps farmers to adapt to the drought or untimely rainfall situation and use of these techniques also contributes to reduction of use of fossil fuel for the farmers. In addition, it provides more access to water for other farmers.

This episode can be accessed through the following link:

Episode 4: Selection of Appropriate Technologies for Climate Smart Agriculture Project

Episode 4 of the ongoing radio programmes on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Nepal outlines the methodologies behind selecting specific technologies for project sites; how CSA technologies have been selected by prioritising the preferences of farmers and how this approach can help reduce the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities.

At the start of the programme, Surendra Gautam, Senior Programme Officer of the Nepal CSA Project highlights the three important aspects that should be considered when discussing Climate Smart Agriculture:

1.Preference and convenience of the farmers

2.Decrease in greenhouse gas emissions

3.Increased food security for the smaller farmer

The three areas selected for the implementation of the project are: mid hills of Majthana, Kaski, the high hills of Ghanapokhara, Lamjung and Terai-Aghyauli, Nawalparasi. He speaks about ‘Rice-duck Farming’ as the selected CSA technology in Aghyauli, Nawalparasi, suitable for growing better quality,  low-cost organic rice, and helping reduce the methane gas emissions.

Similarly, ‘Water Pumping Solar Motors’ will be installed in Nawalparasi for irrigation purposes. Bhawana Bhattarai, Research Officer of the project for Nawalparasi discusses about the reasons for selecting water solar motors as opposed to the traditional water pumping motor, after discussion with the local farmers. The traditional water pumping motor had to rely heavily on petrol, which emits about 840 kg of gas per year; power cuts and the cost bearing of the use of traditional motor prompted the choiceof a water pumping solar motor, according to Ms. Bhattarai. She also talks about the‘Cattle Shed Compost Fertilization Improvement Plan’, which is expected to reduce the workload for women, improve the quality of compost and most importantly, reduce methane emissions.

Karma Dolma Gurung, Research Officer of Lamjung tells listeners about the process of selecting Aallaichi Bhatti (Improved Large Cardamom Dryer)in Ghanapokhara, Lamjung; how interaction with the farmers and the village Conservation Committee led them to select the Aallaichi Bhatti technology in the area. Aallaichi Bhattiwill not only increase the quality of cardamom; it will also provide good value for money to the farmers and most importantly, decrease the use of wood by more than 50%.

This episode can be accessed through the following link:



Picture courtesy: CIAT

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