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Agriculture 2015, 5(1), 2-16; doi:10.3390/agriculture5010002

Community Perspectives on the On-Farm Diversity of Six Major Cereals and Climate Change in Bhutan

1
Specialist III-Maize, RNR Research and Development Center, Yusipang, Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Thimphu, P.O. Box 212, Bhutan
2
National Coordinator, Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme, UNDP, Thimphu, P.O. Box 162, Bhutan
3
Biodiversity Officers, National Biodiversity Center, Serbithang, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Thimphu, P.O. Box 875, Bhutan
4
Rice Specialist III, RNR Research and Development Center, Bajo, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Wangduephodrang, P.O. Box 1263, Bhutan
5
Agriculture Specialist II, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Thimphu, P.O. Box 392, Bhutan
6
Program Director, National Biodiversity Center, Serbithang, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Thimphu, P.O. Box 875, Bhutan
7
Principal Biodiversity Officer, National Biodiversity Center, Serbithang, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Thimphu, P.O. Box 875, Bhutan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Rainer Hofmann
Received: 1 July 2014 / Revised: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 14 January 2015 / Published: 27 January 2015
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Abstract

Subsistence Bhutanese farmers spread across different agro-ecological zones maintain large species and varietal diversity of different crops in their farm. However, no studies have been undertaken yet to assess why farmers conserve and maintain large agro-biodiversity, the extent of agro-ecological richness, species richness, estimated loss of traditional varieties and threats to the loss of on-farm agro-biodiversity. Information on the number of varieties cultivated by the farmers for six important staple crops were collected from nine districts and twenty sub-districts spread across six different agro-ecological zones of the country to understand farmers reasons for maintaining on-farm crop diversity, estimate agro-ecological richness, species richness and the overall loss of traditional varieties, to know the famers’ level of awareness on climate change and the different threats to crop diversity. The results from this study indicated that an overwhelming 93% of the respondents manage and use agro-biodiversity for household food security and livelihood. The average agro-ecological richness ranged from 1.17 to 2.26 while the average species richness ranged from 0.50 to 2.66. The average agro-ecological richness indicates a large agro-ecological heterogeneity in terms of the different species of staple crops cultivated. The average species richness on the other hand shows that agro-ecological heterogeneity determines the type and extent of the cultivation of the six different staple cereals under consideration. The overall loss of traditional varieties in a time period of 20 years stands at 28.57%. On climate change, 94% of the farmers recognize that local climate is changing while 86% responded that they are aware of the potential impacts of climate change on their livelihoods. Climate change and associated factors was considered the most imminent threat to the management and loss of on-farm agro-biodiversity. The results from this study indicate that on-farm agro-biodiversity conservation, development and utilization programs have to be more specific to the different agro-ecological zones considering the agro-ecological heterogeneity. Attention has to be given to individual crops that have low average species richness and high percentage of loss of traditional varieties. The impact of climate change could offset the traditional seed system which primarily supports the persistence of on-farm agro-biodiversity in several ways. View Full-Text
Keywords: agro-biodiversity; climate change; subsistence farming; average agro-ecological richness; average species richness; threats; traditional seed system agro-biodiversity; climate change; subsistence farming; average agro-ecological richness; average species richness; threats; traditional seed system
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Katwal, T.B.; Dorji, S.; Dorji, R.; Tshering, L.; Ghimiray, M.; Chhetri, G.B.; Dorji, T.Y.; Tamang, A.M. Community Perspectives on the On-Farm Diversity of Six Major Cereals and Climate Change in Bhutan. Agriculture 2015, 5, 2-16.

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