When spring flooding in Kashmir’s Himalayan mountains drowned the mustard crops on Ghulam Hassan’s farm, he knew at least he would have his summer rice harvest to provide food for his family and fodder for his cattle.
But when summer came, the glacier-fed stream he uses to irrigate his crops filled to only a fraction of its usual level. His rice plants died of thirst and the corn and beans he tried to plant instead also perished.
“All this land you see around you was an upsetting sight in summer – farmland is of no worth if water is not available,” Hassan said, as he tied together a bale of grass gathered from around his farm in the village of Goripora, in the south of Kashmir.
Now the farmer is left with the painful choice between feeding his family or his animals.
“See my fate?” he asked. “I either have to sell off my cow and two bulls (to buy rice) or buy the fodder for them for the winter.”
Scientists have long warned that warming temperatures linked to climate change are eating into glaciers and ice sheets around the world, driving rising sea levels, floods and droughts.
In Kashmir, where nearly 70% of the population directly or indirectly makes an income through farming,…