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Adapting to Climate Change through Improved Access to Seed and Information

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet.

In Dhading province in central Nepal, most people are farmers, who depend on rain-fed agriculture for food and income. But erratic rainfall and natural disasters in recent years, including widespread drought and recurring landslides, are threatening the livelihoods of the region’s farming communities.

Adapting to Climate ChangeResource Identification and Management Society (RIMS)-Nepal, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable management of natural resources through local capacity-building, has organized a pilot project called the Community Seed and Information Resource Center (CSIRC).

The CSIRC initiative is empowering small-scale farmers with the tools they need to adapt to climate change. Established in November 2010, the CSIRC is organized, managed, and staffed by the village development committee (VDC) of Tasarpu, under the Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA) program.

After conducting a survey to identify the most vulnerable households in the province, the program is providing subsidies for improved seeds to some 160 farmers.

The CSIRC’s decentralized model allows farmers to pool their resources together, ensuring better adaptation to climate change for the entire community. At the center, community members share knowledge about how to put their new inputs to be better use. The CSIRC serves as an important village resource – it allows farmers to collectively discuss the challenges they face and share practices to better manage natural resources.

And the program’s executive committee is also working to integrate the CSIRC within national agriculture networks. One such network is the Telecenters website, an online platform that provides rural farmers with timely information on markets, prices, and weather in English and Nepali.

In remote rural areas, improved access to information about prices for various crops at markets is helping farmers negotiate with buyers or decide which markets to bring their products to. These innovative information sharing networks bridge the gap by enabling farmers to access market information without leaving their farms. And, frequent weather updates are also helping farmers plan ahead and make more informed decisions about planting their crops.

With the help of these resources, farmers in Dhading province are now supplying crops to the nearby Kathmandu Valley, where demand for their products is steadily growing.

Small-scale farmers produce 70 percent of the food consumed in the world today. But according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by 2080, climate change could leave an additional 600 million people hungry. And a majority of those at risk are the world’s small-scale farmers. Improving the capacity of these farmers and strengthening resilience of local food systems is becoming more important than ever.

The CSIRC is doing just that – it is providing farmers with the valuable tools they need to avoid losses to changing weather, and raise crops that nourish their families and communities.

To learn more about building resilience to climate change and improving farmers’ access to inputs and information, see: Improving Water Access in India, One Drip at a Time, FAO Seed Distribution and the Biopiracy Controversy, Local Seeds to Meet Smallscale Farmers’, Everyone Plays a Role, Improving African Women’s Access to Agriculture Training Programs, Providing Seeds to Improve Food Security in Burkina Faso, Turning the Threat of Climate Change into an Opportunity to Build a More Sustainable Future, and Texting on the Farm: Mobile Technology Provides Farmers with Useful Information in India.

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