Post-disaster Agroecological Transition: How the 2015 Nepali Earthquakes Impact Agricultural Adoption in Mid-montane Communities
This paper examines post-disaster agroecological transition and change in mid-montane farming communities located near the epicenters of Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes. Decisions to adopt new agricultural technologies and crop patterns within these communities occur within a constellation of socioecological and economic factors. Using a suite of methods and tools including key informant and informal interviews, focus groups, participant observation, crop calendars and participatory budgeting, we observe that social and landscape effects from the 2015 earthquakes, including shifting labor opportunities and field degradation, catalyze transition to market-oriented crops. In our field sites within Dolakha district, economic and ecological co-benefits incentivize the adoption of cardamom, A momum subulatum, given post-disaster farming scenarios. We describe disaster-specific decision factors for farmers transitioning to cardamom, as opposed to or alongside other cash crops and explore how effects on labor and landscape from the 2015 earthquakes may accelerate adoption in the future. Findings indicate significant benefits for farmers and farms who choose cardamom; however these benefits are unevenly distributed and may exacerbate inequality in rural communities.
Keywords: environmental shocks, adaptive capacity, cardamom, Himalaya