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Farming flexibility and food security under climatic uncertainty: Manang, Nepal Himalaya

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Climate change is predicted to cause a substantial decrease in food production in poor regions during this century. But since reliable models of future climates have not been produced at local level as yet, this article focuses on the flexibility of farming systems in terms of adaptability to changing conditions of production, whatever those changes may turn out to be. Defining flexibility as ‘uncommitted potentiality for change’ Bateson 1972, the aim of the article is to identify such potentialities among subsistence farmers in a remote part of the Himalayas. Our analysis reveals four ‘uncommitted potentialities’ for adaptation to a future situation that will be climatologically different from the present. In order to maintain local food security under changing climate conditions, farmers in the study valley of Manang can reclaim abandoned land, they can depend more on barley, they may reduce the conspicuous exhibition of horses, and relocate farming from the slope to the valley bottom. The inherent flexibility in their farming system renders Mananges quite robust in facing future uncertainties. Thus, Manang is more appropriately labelled ‘dynamic’ than ‘fragile’, which is a term often ascribed to high Himalayan communities and environments.
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Keywords: agro-pastoral cultivation; climate; glacier; interdisciplinary; trans Himalaya; wheat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Norway 2: Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal 3: UNIFOB-Global, University of Bergen, Norway, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 June 2010

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