Great hopes for climate-smart farming

Story of Ashmita Thapa

An FAO climate-smart agriculture project in Nepal is helping families, like Ashmita’s, improve their yields and livelihoods, giving them alternatives to migrating abroad. ©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO


Last year, Ashmita Thapa’s husband left their hometown in southern Nepal to find work in Saudi Arabia. He had been working as a farmer and used to be able to grow enough food for the family.

But now, Ashmita explains, the yields are poorer and poorer. “This is a part of climate change,” she adds. “There isn’t as much rain as before; winds are stronger and pest infections are on the rise.”

“We have less than a half of the maize we used to have,” Ashmita adds.

Nepal is one of the countries hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, and farmers are some of the worst affected. Poverty, reduced yields and difficulty obtaining enough food are pushing people to migrate, looking for better lives.

Her husband’s move, however, did not improve their situation. He was unable to find a good job and repay the debts they incurred for his trip. “We were facing lots of problems,” confesses Ashmita. 

Nepal is one of the countries hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. With 70% of the population dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, Nepal’s farmers are some of the worst affected. ©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO

 “Last year we were told about an FAO project. We felt happy that it could be a solution to our problems,” she continues.

Taking part in the FAO-supported project, Ashmita and some 3,000 farmers learned to grow crops that are better adapted to the impacts of climate change. Farmers test different varieties of crops and use tailored techniques to determine the best crops to grow for their land. They learn by doing.

Using a climate-smart approach, Ashmita and about 3,000 other farmers learned to grow their own vegetables to feed their families and help them save money. These new techniques make agriculture more resilient to decreased rainfall, stronger winds and other impacts of a changing climate. ©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO

They also received support to raise animals by understanding what and when to feed their livestock. This is part of the climate-smart and sustainable agriculture approach that helps transform agriculture into resilient systems that effectively support development and ensure food security in the face of a changing climate.

 “Before this project, we had to buy vegetables from the market. We now grow them in our fields. We can save money,” Ashmita exclaims.

“We have learned many things from this project. We hope to learn more going forward, and if we do, it will not be necessary to go abroad,” she concludes.

This FAO project is made possible thanks to the support of the Global Environment Facility. FAO and its partners are helping to make leaving home a choice not a necessity. 

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5. Gender equality, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 13. Climate action