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Flexibility of scope, type and temporality in Mustang, Nepal. Opportunities for adaptation in a farming system facing climatic and market uncertainty

Climate change is projected to increase the seasonality in river flows in the great river systems of the Himalaya and impose challenges to regional food production. Since climate change increases the uncertainty in local weather patterns, people’s ability to maintain local agricultural production will depend on the adaptability of local farming systems. This paper investigates the flexibility of one such farming system located in Mustang, Nepal. It identifies opportunities for change in the farming system, as well as factors that constrain flexibility. The paper argues that although there are several underexploited resources in the studied farming system, the present situation is not regarded as one of irrational and suboptimal exploitation of resources. Instead, unexploited resources imply opportunities for change, which provide the system with flexibility to rapidly adjust to uncertain conditions.