Kolkata

Home gardens in Bengal hit by climate change

A home garden in West Bengal.

A home garden in West Bengal.  

‘They maintain green cover, harbour rich biodiversity and help in poverty reduction’

A recent study of home gardens in the dry regions of West Bengal has revealed that they are facing the effects of climate change and that there is a need to provide agricultural extension services to these gardens for their sustenance.

The paper ‘Biodiversity and Impacts of Climate Change in Home Gardens: Evidence From a Study in West Bengal’ authored by Joyashree Roy, professor at Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, and Sebak Kumar Jana, Vidyasagar University, points out that home garden owners have reported pest attacks, insect and diseases. The studies were conducted in the arid areas at Garbeta block in Paschim Medinipur district.

Prof. Roy said home gardens not only provide food security but also help in maintaining green cover, harbour rich biodiversity and help in poverty reduction in rural areas. “Unless agricultural extension service is given to these home gardens, there is no guarantee that people will continue the healthy practice,” she said. According to her, home gardens are a major land use pattern all over the world, and in rural areas can provide vegetables and fruits to the family throughout the year.

“The most common attack on the home garden is semi-looper (Leda poka in Bengali), almost 77%, affecting vegetables and tree,” the study said. The other pests are aphids affecting 33% of home gardens and white fly 11% of home gardens. The common diseases in the home gardens studied are: mosaic in 41%, downy mildew in 37% and foot row in 32%.

The field survey pointed out that planting dates have been changed for some crops like chilli (30%), brinjal (21%) and gourd (17%). “The major reasons are changes in the onset of rain, shortage of water and lack of timely irrigation,” the study said.

Change in temperature

The study also looked at the change in temperature in home gardens between 1965 and 2010. The minimum temperature during this time showed an increase from 1960s to 2005. The minimum temperature increased from 20.5 degrees Celsius to over 22 degrees C. The maximum temperature decreased from about 32 degrees C in the mid-1960 to almost 31 degrees in 2005.

While there was no hired labour, annual time allocated by households varied from 40.14 hours and 35 hours. “The households report that some species of plants, like eucalyptus and mango, are becoming extinct in home garden… the main reason is felling, water crisis, pests and deteriorating quality of the soil,” the paper said.

The paper, which is part of book Current State and Future Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, highlights that there is a “need of extension services on the part of the government regarding crop planning, land management, providing irrigation and training for water and soil conservation etc so that home garden owners can take different adaptation strategies”.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:14:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/home-gardens-in-bengal-hit-by-climate-change/article30898784.ece

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