Climate and Agriculture
Weather, Climate & Agriculture
The seasons in Nepal are pretty much the same as in Europe. In January it’s cold, while in July you could make do with shorts and t-shirt. But Nepal remains a country of extremes, and, if you’re planning to head into the mountains, you definitely need to be aware of the Nepal trekking season. Although trekking and tour in Nepal can be organized throughout the year, October through May is considered to be the best months for trekking. Summer months of the year which coincides with monsoon begins in mid-June and drains in mid-September making travel wet and warm.
Climate of the lower plains:
The Nepal climate in the lower plains is (sub) tropical. Summers are hot and humid and temperatures can soar to 40°C. It’s the same heat that covers Northern India at this time of year and the months before the monsoon hits can be particularly hot and sticky (May and early June). Winters in the lower plains are mild and dry with temperatures averaging between 10°C – 17°C.
Climate of Himalayan foothills:
The mountains and valleys in the Himalayan foothills have a moderate climate with warm summers and cool winters. As it lies at relatively southern latitude, the Nepal climate is even pleasant at altitude, and the tree line is quite high. Average temperatures vary from 10°C in January to 24°C in July. In winter, the Nepal climate is (as you might imagine), pretty chilly. Temperatures drop and nights can be very cold, although they rarely sink to below freezing. In Kathmandu, from April – September, temperatures can climb to 28°C with nights averaging around 20°C.
Climate of Monsoon Season:
The South-West monsoon lasts from June to September, and this is definitely not the best Nepal trekking season. During this time, the monsoon rains gradually advance east to west (whereas the most western part and the north of Nepal remain dry). The densely populated lowlands receive a lot of rain (up to 2000mm-3000mm), and over the rainy season, many roads are blocked by landslides and trails become slippery tracks. Leeches can be an irritation at Chitwan in the wet season and if trekking from Pokhara.
Climate of Himalayan Mountain Range:
The high mountains of the Himalayas which run along the northern border, above 4000m, have an alpine Nepal climate. Temperatures remain below 0°C and the landscape is covered with snow and ice.
Agriculture in Nepal
Agriculture is the major sector of Nepalese economy. In the late 1980s, it was the livelihood for more than 90 percent of the population–although only approximately 20 percent of the total land area was cultivable–and accounted for, on average, about 60 percent of the GDP and approximately 75 percent of exports. Since the formulation of the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1975-80), agriculture has been the highest priority because economic growth was dependent on both increasing the productivity of existing crops and diversifying the agricultural base for use as industrial inputs.
The production of crops fluctuated widely as a result of weather conditions. Although agricultural production grew at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent from 1974 to 1989, it did not keep pace with population growth, which increased at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent over the same period. Further, the annual average growth rate of food grain production was only 1.2 percent during the same period.
Rice is the most important cereal crop. Fluctuation in rice production is very common because of changes in rainfall; overall, however, rice production had increased following the introduction of new cultivation techniques as well as increases in cultivated land.
Other food crops included wheat, millet, and barley, but their contribution to the agricultural sector was small. Increased production of cash crops–used as input to new industries–dominated in the early 1970s. Sugarcane and tobacco also showed considerable increases in production from the 1970s. Potatoes and oilseed production had shown moderate growth since 1980s. Medicinal herbs were grown in the north on the slopes of the Himalayas, but increases in production were limited by continued environmental degradation. According to government statistics, production of milk, meat, and fruit had improved but still had not reached a point where nutritionally balanced food was available to most people. Additionally, the increases in meat and milk production had not met the desired level of output.
Food grains contribute more than 40 percent of total crop production. In fact, severe weather fluctuations often affected production levels.