Challenges in Agricultural Practices in the Mountains of Eastern Bhutan

EarthzineDEVELOP Fall 2013 VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, In-Depth, Original

Team Location: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal; and Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.

 Image of annual precipitation rate over Bhutan. Areas of darker blue indicate more rain, which also implies greater runoff rates in areas of greater slope. Image Credit: Bhutan Agriculture Team, NASA DEVELOP National Program.

Image of annual precipitation rate over Bhutan. Areas of darker blue indicate more rain, which also implies greater runoff rates in areas of greater slope. Image Credit: Bhutan Agriculture Team, NASA DEVELOP National Program.

Authors:

Tenzin, (Sherubtse College, Kanglung), Project Lead

Prabesh Shrestha, (Kathmandu University), Project Lead

Binayak Tiwari (Tribhuvan University)

Kezang Gaden (Sherubtse College, Kanglung)

Namgay Dorji (Sherubtse College, Kanglung)

Sabitra Basnet (Sherubtse College, Kanglung)

Kel Markert (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

Casey Calamaio (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

Samuel Ayers (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

Mentors/Advisers:

Dr. Kenton Ross, Ph.D. (NASA, DEVELOP National Science Adviser)

Mr. Sebatian Wesselman (IInternational Centre for Integrated Mountain Development)

Dr. Pankaj Thapa (Sherubtse College)

Abstract:

Bhutan, in the Himalayan mountain range, is a developing country that relies heavily on the agricultural industry. Most of Bhutan‰Ûªs economy is based on agriculture and forest, with 55 percent of the total population relying on agricultural yields for their livelihood.åÊ The landscape is mainly mountainous which creates a difficult environment for local farmers, limiting agricultural practices. This project partnered with Sherubtse College and Bhutan‰Ûªs Ministry of Agriculture and Forest to identify challenges in agricultural practices and to help improve decision-making practices relating to the placement of agricultural fields. To accomplish this task, Terra‰Ûªs Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflectivity Radiometer (ASTER) Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) was used to calculate elevation and slope for the county, Landsat imagery was used to calculate land cover change, and Terra‰Ûªs Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery was used to calculate vegetation, water, and drought indices.åÊ All of the environmental parameters at areas of agricultural loss were analyzed to assess correlations between the parameters and the loss of crops. Community questionnaires/surveys also have been conducted to provide a ground-level assessment of the agricultural practice concerns. Combining satellite imagery of environmental parameters and in-situ data will elucidate challenges in Bhutan’s agricultural industry. This methodology will be used by partner organizations to quantitatively illustrate the array of challenges that are most significant in Bhutan for agriculture.

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