Case StudySafbin

To promote Local Food And Nutritional Security through Adaptive Small scale
Farming in four rainfed AES in South Asia in the context of climate change

  • Drought tolerant rice varieties help farmers to adapt to changing monsoon in Nepal

  •   | 
  • 01/05/2013

Suja Rokaya is 40 years old and owns a farm in Alayachour village, Surkhet district, Mid-Western Nepal. On his 9 kattha (0.3ha) he produces rice, vegetables and potatoes. 10 family members depend on the harvest. As his land is unable to produce enough food Mr. Rokaya leases another 0.5ha by an Adhiya arrangement. In this way, he was manages food security and income of his family.Suja Rokaya reports how low rice productivity, due to inadequate rains, unfertile soils and low technical knowledge, is a challenge for his farm.


„ We cannot stop climate change so we need to adapt. We are excited to see how the new rice varieties, made available by SAFBIN project, are performing in our fields under dry conditions”


As many other farmers, cultivating under rain-fed conditions, he noticed the fluctuation in the arrival of monsoon from one year to another which makes it difficult to decide when to establish rice nursery. Farmers are highly dependent on monsoon as their main rainfall season. Even if monsoon arrives in time, some seasons do not bring enough rains for proper growth of rice plants and good paddy production. Suja Rokaya shared that of the past nine years only three received timely and adequate rainfalls. These conditions, under which small farmers in this area have to manage, increasingly make farming a challenge. 

Upon joining “Chadani Small Holder Farmers Agriculture Research Group”, facilitated through SAFBIN project and implemented by Caritas Nepal, Suja Rokaya learned that the changing climate in Surkhet is part of a wider phenomenon called global warming. SAFBIN project supported the research group to plan, conduct, monitor and analyse farmer-led action research trials and test mitigation strategies for climate

change. Irregular rainfall, as main challenge of the area, was addressed by undertaking trials on newly released drought tolerant short duration rice varieties developed by the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), a partner in the SAF-BIN project. The “farmer group led action research” tested Sukha Dhan 2 (a ‘fat rice’) and Sukha Dhan 3 (a ‘thin rice’) against the locally used variety Radha 4. Additionally improved cultivation and fertilisation practises were introduced by SAF-BIN project (e.g. limitations of plants/hill, crop geometry, compost and farm manure, reduction of urea, adequate chemical fertilizer application).

Promising results of the initial trial period (2012) of this farmer led action research lead to an upscaling of trial area in 2013-14. The newly introduced Sukha Dhan 2 and 3 varieties provided greater grain and straw yields compared to Radha 4. Seed supply is ensured by the farmers themselves who keep new variety seeds for cultivation in the coming year.


"We were very excited to see the performance of the introduced varieties in 2012 which was a comparatively a dryer year. Sukha Dhan 2 is my favourite. It provided fat rice and is both suitable for home consumption and fetches good prices in the local market”.


By using the potential of the new rice varieties and improved farming practises Suja Rokaya is now able to realize an equivalent of 21.7t/ha as compared to 13.8t/hain the past. He has improved his food security from his own land from 5 to 11 months per year. In addition, he also is now increasing rice yield from his leased land by 50% which provides him with additional income from rice sale. Suja Rokaya is grateful to Caritas Nepal’s SAF-BIN project team and the European Union for assisting them to adapt to climate change in rice farming. Caritas Nepal is glad to see that farmers are adapting to climate change by selecting suitable drought tolerant varieties and by pursuing good practices in rice cultivation.



Authorship: Chintan Manadhar, Caritas Nepal

Editing: Romana Roschinsky (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)