“There is a big difference in terms of quantity and quality of apples.” Hirachan owns apple orchards in Tokuchi village. It is an area where precipitation rarely occurred even two years ago. The dry weather in Mustang is one reason why apples from there, though small, are sweet and why people love them. However, the region has experienced heavy amounts of rain in recent years. As a result, apple growers face problems of pest infestation and root decay due to excess moisture in the soil.
It is very difficult to grow apples in Lower Mustang these days.
There is a serious pest problem here, but we have no way to combat it. “This is a direct result of climate change in these mountainous regions,” says Bekal Shirshan, an apple farmer in Koang village.
Experts say the Mustangs’ total crop production has been hit by climate change.
Achyut Tiwari of Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University says a study in Mustang shows that apple production in Mustang has declined sharply as a result of heavy rains.
“Many farmers in the so-called apple region of the region such as Let, Taklong, Dumpo and Kwang are turning towards different crops.”
Tiwari adds some places in the upper region of Mustang, where apple production was difficult until a couple of years ago, meanwhile, production is improving. “This is because these regions have not received as much snowfall as they used to. Apples and other crops that prefer dry climates are moving more upwards due to changing weather patterns.”
The effects of climate change are particularly noticeable in the region’s lower elevations, but there have not been many conclusive and comprehensive studies.
Pesticide use also increased dramatically because apple growers were suffering from various crop diseases. There are about 3,700 households in Mustang and about 1,500 of them are employed in apple farming. Recently, some of these families have been migrating to Upper Mustang, where they can grow apples without fears of rain or pests.
Sopas Adhikari, an environmental expert, bemoans the fact that the government does not have solid data to measure the effects of climate change and to prepare a solid plan of action. There have been a few studies, but they are not enough. Climate change research should be a matter of priority for all three levels of government.”