Low snowfall leaves upper Manang farmers worried

Manang, Feb. 5: Farmers in Manang district are increasingly concerned about the absence of snowfall this year. The lack of timely snow poses several challenges, including irrigation problems, absence of grass for cattle, lack of moisture needed for apple trees, heightened risk of disease and insect infestation and reduced grain quality.

Manang has witnessed very low snowfall this year. It has snowed in the lower regions of Manang and the upper areas of Manang are yet to receive snowfall this year. Therefore, the favourable conditions for the growth of crops, fruits and grass are hindered, complained the locals.

Yangdu Gurung, 84, a yak herder, said, “I have three dozen yaks and finding enough grass for them has been a challenge due to the absence of snow in the lower range.”

Likewise, Yuba Raj Gurung, the head of Agro Manang, expressed concerns about the potential difficulties in expanding apple cultivation this year due to the absence of snow. 

He said, “If there was snow, the apple trees could be relocated, ensuring their survival. However, this year, the lack of snow will result in insufficient moisture for the apple trees.”

Gurung said, “We typically rely on snowfall for irrigation. After snowfall its gradual melting would provide sufficient water for the apple plants, eliminating the need for additional irrigation. However, there is no snow this year, and it has posed challenges for crops and fruits.”

He explained that the absence of snow would lead to reduced water availability for the apple plants. This could result in the fall of flowers, poor growth of apples and an increase in diseases and insect infestations.

Santosh Sherchan, Chief of the Manaslu Conservation Area Project, also highlighted the negative impact of the absence of snow on farming and animal husbandry in the Himalayas. 

He added that this is the season for planting potatoes, apples, and walnuts, and the lack of snow directly affects both production and marketing.

Dhak Bahadur Bhujel, Chief of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Manang, said that the lack of snow leads to the drying up of water sources, impacting agriculture, tourism, and wildlife in Upper Manang.

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