Farming is a major source of livelihood for households in rural Nepal and is central to rural life. But this is transitioning in recent times. Farming is no longer able to support the needs of rural households, forcing people to see alternative livelihood sources. Also, natural resource dependent livelihoods are highly vulnerable to climatic and environmental stresses, particularly in isolated mountain contexts. This has led to changes in the agriculture land use. In a recent study under HI-AWARE program at ICIMOD, researchers highlighted the differential impacts of migration of male and female members of the households on the changes in agricultural land use in three sites in different agro-ecological zones in Nepal.
The study follows a transdisciplinary approach while understanding the impacts of migration on agricultural land use change from 1990 to 2010 in Lamjung, Nuwakot, and Chitwan districts in Gandaki basin, Nepal using geospatial technology, survey data and participatory research approach. The researchers found varying patterns in changes in area under agriculture in three different sites over the two decades. In the mountain areas there was agriculture land contract (by about 2200 ha) and in plains agriculture expansion (by about 2100 ha).
The statistical analysis based on the Census data and land use dynamics for the study period revealed that the most dominant factor in agricultural land abandonment is the ecology, i.e. mountains are facing high agriculture land abandonment compared to plains. The study showed differential impact of internal and international migration and gendered nature of such effect. Out-migration of women had significantly higher influence on agriculture land fallowing, confirming the increasing feminization of agriculture sector in Nepal. Similarly, higher precipitation also significantly influenced agriculture land abandonment.
This study was presented at a public event organized by Social Science Baha, IWMI, and CIFOR on Saturday, 16 December, 2017 in Kathmandu.