Natural and socio-economic factors affecting food security in the Himalayas
- 1.2k Downloads
In the Himalayas, food security of communities primarily depends on local agricultural productivity and food purchasing power. Subsistence agriculture, which is forest based, constitutes the main source of rural food and livelihoods. However, due to constraints of terrain and climate, agricultural productivity is low, resulting in large food deficits and leading to a considerable proportion of the adult male population migrating from the region in search of employment and livelihoods. Remittances from the migrants and local off-farm employment contribute to community purchasing power which may be used to buy food from the open market and government controlled Public Distribution System (PDS). Depletion of natural resources, changing climatic conditions, the recent economic recession and sharply fluctuating food prices have not only decreased local food production but also reduced employment opportunities locally as well as outside the area, rendering the entire region highly vulnerable to food insecurity. This study, which was carried out in the Upper Kosi Catchment in Kumaon Himalaya, India, revealed that not only has annual agricultural productivity declined by nearly 125 Kg per ha (25 %) during the last 30 years, causing an annual food deficit of 1883 tonnes (65 %) and massive decline in per capita food production, but that local off-farm employment opportunities in different traditional rural sectors has also declined. Furthermore, the recent economic recession and the resultant job losses for migrants has decreased incoming remittances by 20 %–25 %, causing the loss of local purchasing power and posing a serious threat to food security. Those particularly affected are marginal and smallholder farmers, and landless households, which mainly include socially backward communities and families with very low incomes. It is therefore imperative that a community oriented framework for the management of land, water and forest resources is planned and implemented in this region, together with the generation of viable means of off-farm employment at the local level
KeywordsForest-based subsistence agriculture Climate change Loss of ecosystem services Food deficit Economic recession Food purchasing power
Part of the research was carried out within the research project ‘Natural Resources Information System for Wasteland Development in Kosi Headwater, Kumaon Himalaya’ supported by the Department of Sciences and Technology, Government of India, New Delhi and the outline of the paper was presented and discussed in the international workshop on ‘Key Drivers of Food Security in Mountains’ sponsored by Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), Bern, Switzerland. The authors are thankful to both agencies for their generous financial support.
- Adhikari, J., & Bohle, H. G. (1999). Food crisis in Nepal: How mountain farmers cope? New Delhi: Adroit Publications.Google Scholar
- Barrett, C. B. (2010). Measuring food insecurity. Science, 327(5967), 825–828. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/327/5967/825.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Basu, K. (2011). India’s food grain policy: an economic theory perspective. Economic and Political Weekly, 46(5), 37–46.Google Scholar
- Blaikie, P. M., Cameron, J., & Seddon, J. D. (2001). Nepal in crisis. Growth and stagnation at the periphery. Delhi: Adroit Publishers.Google Scholar
- Cline, W. R. (2008). Global warming and agriculture. Finance and Development, 45(1), 23–27.Google Scholar
- Drèze, J. (2010). The task of making the PDS work, The Hindu, 8 July 2010Google Scholar
- Dyurgerov, M. D., & Meier, M. F. (2005). Glaciers and changing earth system: A 2004 Snapshot, Occasional paper 58, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar
- Food and Agriculture Organization. (1996). Declaration on world food security. Rome: World Food Summit, FAO.Google Scholar
- Food and Agricultural Organization. (1997). Managing fragile ecosystems—sustainable mountain development in Rio Earth Summit Review chapter 13. New York: UN/FAO.Google Scholar
- Food and Agricultural Organization (2003). Agriculture, food and water, chapter 2, FAO, Rome, http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/006/Y4683E/y4683e06.htm.
- Food and Agricultural Organization (2008a). Soaring food prices: Facts, perspectives, impacts and actions required, high-level Conference on World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bio Energy, Hlc/08/Inf/1, Rome, 3–5 June 2008.Google Scholar
- Food and Agricultural Organization (2008b). Food security in mountains – high time for action. Brochure of the International Mountain Day. 2008. http://www.mountaineering.ie/documentbank/uploads/IMD08%20brochure.pdf.
- Fujita, K., Kadota, T., Rana, B., Shrestha, R. B., & Ageta, Y. (2001). Shrinkage of Glacier AX010 in Shorong Region, Nepal Himalayas, in the 1990s. Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 18, 51–54.Google Scholar
- Government of India (2005). Norms for providing potable drinking water in rural areas, Report of Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, Chapter 1, New Delhi.Google Scholar
- Huddleston, B., Ataman, E., & d’Ostlanl, L. F. (2003). Towards a GIS-based analysis of mountain environments and populations. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization.Google Scholar
- ICIMOD (2007). Melting Himalayas: Regional challenges and local impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems and livelihoods, Technical Paper, 11–24.Google Scholar
- IPCC (2007a). Climate Change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.—http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm.
- IPCC (2007b). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaption and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.—http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm.
- IPCC (2007c). Climate change 2007: Mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.—http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm.
- Ives, J. D. (1985). Himalayan environmental regeneration: An overview what are the problems and how can they be tackled. In J. S. Singh (Ed.), Environmental regeneration in Himalaya (pp. 1–11). Nainital: Gyanodaya Prakashan.Google Scholar
- Maithani, B. P. (1986). Towards sustainable hill area development, Himalaya: man. Nature and Culture, 16(2), 4–7.Google Scholar
- National Institute of Nutrition. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Indians: A manual. India: Hyderabad.Google Scholar
- Palni, L. M. S., Maikhuri, R. K., & Rao, K. S. (1998). Conservation of the Himalayan agroecosystems: issues and priorities. In: Eco-regional Cooperation for Biodiversity Conservation in the Himalaya. UNDP, New York. pp 253–290.Google Scholar
- Pande, D. C. (1998). New farm technology and hill peasantry in India. In P. C. Pande et al. (Eds.), The Himalayan environment: Issues and challenges (pp. 101–111). New Delhi: Daya Publishing House.Google Scholar
- Rawat, J. S. (2009). Saving Himalayan Rivers: Developing Spring Sanctuaries in Headwater Regions. In B. L. Shah (Ed.), Natural resource conservation in Uttarakhand (pp. 41–69). Haldwani: Ankit Prakshan.Google Scholar
- Roberts, P. (2009). The end of food. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.Google Scholar
- Sati, V. P. (2008). Natural resource management and food security in Alakhnanda Basin of Garhwal Himalaya, Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Bulletin, G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Alomra, India, 12(2), 1–11.Google Scholar
- Singh, J. S., Pandey, U., & Tiwari, A. K. (1984). Man and forests: a central Himalayan case study. Ambio, 13, 80–87.Google Scholar
- Tiwari, P. C. (1995). Natural Resources and Sustainable Development in Himalaya. Almora: Shree Almora Book Depot.Google Scholar
- Tiwari, P. C. (2008). Land use changes in Himalaya and their impacts on environment, society and economy: a study of the Lake Region in Kumaon Himalaya, India. Advances in atmospheric sciences. An International Journal of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 25(6), 1029–1042.Google Scholar
- Tiwari, P. C., & Joshi, B. (2005). Environmental changes and status of water resources in Kumaon Himalaya. In J. Libor et al. (Eds.), Sustainable management of headwater resources: Research from Africa and Asia (pp. 109–12). Tokyo: United Nations University.Google Scholar
- Tiwari, P. C., & Joshi, B. (2011). Urban growth and food security in Himalaya, International Working Paper Series, Urbanization and Global Environmental Change (UGEC) View point. International Human Dimension Programme (IHDP), 1(5), 20–23.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2006). Human development report: Beyond scarcity: power, poverty and the global water crisis. New York: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
- Whittaker, W. (1989). The ecology and economy of Himalayan agriculture and labour migration: A case study of Garhwal District. In D. C. Pandey & P. C. Tiwari (Eds.), Dimensions of development planning (pp. 509–550). New Delhi: Criterion.Google Scholar
- World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar