Auteurs : S. Brown and B. Shrestha

Market oriented production is a key factor driving land-use intensification in the Middle Mountains of Nepal. The results of a GIS-based case-study indicates historic, large-scale deforestation followed by afforestation. The area under cultivation has increased, but the expansion of irrigation has been limited by water availability. Rainfed agriculture has expanded onto steep upland slopes while irrigated cultivation expanded on slopes 10°. The farming systems have become more intensive; double and triple crop rotations are applied where water is available, and increased vegetable production and the marketing of milk are indicators of intensification. Seventy percent of the surveyed households now grow cash crops, and 45% sell buffalo milk. Market oriented agriculture is more demanding of soil and water resources, and concerns about resource degradation are emerging. Sixty percent of surveyed farmers reported a lack of irrigation as their main production constraint. Agro-chemical use has increased, soil acidification related to the use of ammonium based fertilizers is a concern, and stream eutrophication is common during the dry season. Commercial milk production has increased demand for animal fodder, placing additional pressure on forest and rangelands, with 55% of female farmers reporting fodder shortages during the dry season. Potential management options to minimize the impact of intensification include improved agricultural extension, N-fixing plants, improved composting, liming, and water use efficiency. Market-driven agricultural production provides a source of income to the rural poor, but the sustainability of these intensive systems is dependent on addressing soil and water degradation.

Ó 2000 Academic Press

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