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Climate change and housdehold food security in homegardens of Sri Lanka

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A study was conducted to assess the changes in rainfall and maximum and minimum temperatures farmer’s perception on climate change adaptation strategies composition of homegardens (HGs) and contribution of HGs to household food security over the period of two decades (1991-2010). The study sites were Pethiyagoda [Kandy district; Mid Country Wet Zone (MCWZ); 59 HGs] and Keeriyagaswewa [Anuradhapura district Low Country Dry Zone (LCDZ); 59 HGs]. A questionnaire survey and focus group discussions were the main methodologies adopted; Historical data on temperature and rainfall were collected from the Department of Meteorology for the climate analysis. In the two study sites a significant rise in the average annual minimum and maximum temepratures were observed during the period 1961 to 2010 while the rate of rise in night-time minimum temperature was more pronounced than that of the daytime maximum temperature. The annual cumulative rainfall did not reveal any discernible trend in the study sites but a high variability. The majority of the respondents correctly perceived the changes in environmental temperatures compared to the changes in the amount of rainfall change. A total of 112 woody tree species were identified in the two study sites where a higher taxic diversity was reported from LCDZ than those of MCWZ due to the dominance of a few commercial species (spice crops) in HGs in the MCWZ. The mean Shannon-Weiner Index (SWI) for MCWZ was lower (1.99) compared to that of LCDZ (2.13). A total of 27 species were found in common to both sites which are important for food security. Animals were found only in the HGs at Keeriyagaswewa showing a marginal contribution to food security in the study sites. The most prominent species in HGsof the study sites was Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.). The average food ratio in MCWZ (0.58) was higher than that of LCDZ (0.51). The contribution of HGs for food security in MCWZ (28.8%) was higher than those of LCWZ (16.6%). In both LCDZ and MCWZ 81% of the total coconut nuts harvested are used for home consumption. In HGs n LCDZ the harvests of 14 food tree species out of 19 are largely used for family consumption purposes whilethe main income generating food tree species is Tamarind (86% of the total harvest is sold). In MCWZ 4 out of 9 food tree species found in the HGs are largely for income generation purposes. The HGs in MCWZ was occupied by more nutritional and dense stands of tree species compared to those at LCWZ. Despite the evidence that climate change has taken place in the past 50 years (1961-2010) the composition of HGs in Sri Lanka has not changed substantially. The HGs in study areas which are dominated by trees showed resilience to climate change and considerable contribution to household food security. An analysis of the strategies adapted by homegardeners over the past two decades that have enabled them to cope with changes in climate and ensure food security are discussed. Discover the world's research

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