February 1: "Just a cold breeze, but no snowfall," said Ash Bahadur Thakali, a local of Thini village in Mustang. "By this time last year, we had experienced snowfall several times. There is no indication of snowfall this time around," he reflected.
Mustang has not witnessed snowfall this winter even though the winter season is about to end. Villages and settlements are drying up due to lack of rainfall this season. The cliffs and ridges look dry and nude, not appealing anymore.
In absence of snowfall, farmers are worried about their crops. Their harvests are on the verge of wilting, especially in the areas having no irrigation facilities.
Thakali said winter crops such as barley, wheat, onion and potato do not show any sign of 'yielding' in absence of snowfall. The popular tourism destinations of the trans-Himalayan district which looked majestic with snow in the winter season now appear to be deserted, he lamented.
Deepak Lalchan, an apple farmer of Gharpajhong-2, Marfa, said moisture required for fruits and crops is lacking as snowfall is yet to occurr. "Most probably apple yield will be badly affected because there is no adequate moisture," he said, adding, "Marfa has irrigation facility and is not in a worrisome state."
Nevertheless, farmers of Thasang which is a fertile land for barley are worried because of the dry spell. There is no facility of irrigation in Thasang.
The Himalayan life along with cultivation has also been affected in the absence of snowfall and rain. Lalchan shared that they were now experiencing warm weather when it is the time for chilling cold.
Those descending to plain and city areas to ward off the chilly days are also surprised to know 'there was no snowfall in the high-altitude areas this time".
Acting Chief of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre Mustang, Prakash Bastakoti said quantity and quality of the winter crops would be affected if there is no snowfall and rain in the winter. "Production would drop if the moisture necessary for flowering of apple trees is not adequately maintained," he said, adding the farmers are awaiting for snowfall for cultivation of potato and for already-cultivated barley and wheat to grow.
Bastakoti observed, "No snowfall till the onset of February could be because of the effects of climate change. If this trend continues to prevail new variant of crops would get entry in the Himalayan region. Production of indigenous crops may plummet".
Lately, the upper belt of Mustang has also witnessed the production of vegetable items such as cucumber and tomato, Bastakoti shared.
Not only Mustang, no Himalayan districts and higher altitude areas of Gandaki province have experienced snowfall in the season as of now. Even no rainfall has occurred.
Chief of the Gandaki Province Agriculture Development Directorate, Basudev Regmi said the unexpected climate condition has direct bearing on the winter crops cultivated in the high altitude areas of Mustang, Manang, Myagdi and Baglung. "Loss and damage is incurred in the areas having no irrigation facilities in the absence of snowfall and rain".
Meteorologist at the Weather Forecasting Division, Sanjeeb Adhikari said immediately there is no chance of rainfall in the Gandaki province areas. The prevailing weather system would not bring rain despite hazy skies, he added. -- RSS