Authors: Karma Dema, Ngawang, Pema Chophel, Ngawang Chojey & Tirtha Bdr. Katwal
Status of on-farm diversity of field crops was assessed in Dewathang and Orong geogs under Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag (district) by Samdrupjongkhar Initiative (SJI) to document and understand the status of field crops diversity, reasons for maintaining agro-diversity, farmers perception on emerging issues like climate change, and crop production constraints and challenges faced by the farming communities. A total of 131 households were randomly sampled and surveyed using a structured questionnaire. The change in a number of households cultivating the different field crops that comprised cereals, legumes and some underutilized crops were compared 20 years before and now to compute the percent change. Paired t-test was used to analyze the data to assess the change in on-farm agro-biodiversity. This study revealed that the overall percentage of households cultivating different field crops has reduced by 27% in the span of twenty years. Paired t-test analysis of the data shows that there is a significant change (P<0.01) in the number of households cultivating different or field crops 20 years before and now. Three critical reasons assigned by farmers for cultivating different crops and varieties were for food security and livelihood (53%), to meet different needs (28%) and meet religious needs (18%). Three most important challenges on the cultivation of different crops listed by respondents were farm labour shortage (26%), human-wildlife conflict (24%) and pest and disease attack (17%). Some 44 % of the respondents observed that climate change has occurred over the last twenty years. This study indicates that the on farm-agro diversity plays a very critical role for food security and livelihood. To help the communities to sustainably maintain the in-situ conservation, linking on farm agro-diversity to other income generating enterprises like agro-tourism, organic production and value addition of products for income generation should be pursued. Findings from this study were used as baseline to design interventions to address community’s challenges in field crops conservation, development and utilization.
Keywords: Agro-biodiversity, On-farm, Conservation, Community, Decline, Climate change
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