Land use practices, cropping systems and climate change vulnerability to mountain agro-ecosystems of Nepal

Kalidas Subedi, Netra Chhetri, Tika B. Karki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Characterized by fragile geo-ecology, marginality, inaccessibility, and subsistence livelihoods, the land resources in the Middle Mountain region of Nepal are intensively cultivated beyond their carrying capacity. Lack of off-farm employment opportunities combined with limited productive lands has forced the mountain communities to eke out their living through intensive cultivation of crops to fragile mountain slopes. Cropping systems vary considerably with land types, elevation, slope, aspect, seasonal water availability, soil types, and their fertility. Multiple cropping, in combination with several crop rotations are predominant to safeguard food supply and meet dietary requirements of households. Land management practices such as terracing, traditional agro-forestry practices and intercropping are some of the best examples that have been developed by the farmers by their ingenuity to cope with the harsh and fragile mountain ecosystems. The mountain cropping systems have to face numerous natural and human-induced challenges, including land degradation and loss of agro-biodiversity, leading to food insecurity and unsustainable livelihoods. This region is highly vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change is seen as a risk multiplier. Meeting the ever-growing food demands while sustaining land productivity and maintaining resiliency at the farm level is the major challenge faced by the mountain farmers. This chapter outlines the typical characteristics of the mountain cropping systems and discusses how they are coping with the ongoing natural and socio-economic dynamics. The vulnerability of the fragile mountain agro-ecosystems to climate change and its impacts on land use and cropping systems are discussed. The mountains agriculture seems to be highly vulnerable to climate change effects particularly erratic rainfall events and droughts, and land degradation due to soil erosion, landslides, flash floods, and siltation leading to loss of productive lands, crops failure and food insecurity. Effective measures to cope with such impacts in the mountain agro-ecosystem are suggested. Increased public awareness about the climate change effects, building adaptive capacity to cope with such effects, sustainable soil and water conservation practices, and resilient cropping practices (drought tolerant crop/varieties, change in crop rotations, and water use efficiency) seem to be the key strategies to be adopted to cope with the climate change effects in the fragile mountain agro-ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCrop Rotations
Subtitle of host publicationFarming Practices, Monitoring and Environmental Benefits
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781634845281
ISBN (Print)9781634844963
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Crop rotations
  • Cropping systems
  • Land use
  • Mountain agro-ecosystem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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