Household Food Diversity and Food Habits in Changing Climate of Western Bhutan

Purna P. Chapagai *

Department of Sustainable Development, College of Natural Resources (CNR), Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), Bhutan.

Om Katel

Department of Climate Studies, CNR, RUB, Bhutan.

Penjor

Department of Animal Science, CNR, RUB, Bhutan.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Abstract

Household food diversity index (HFDI) is qualitative measure of food consumption that reflects household access to a variety of food groups.  Food habit is the way people eat food which is influenced by various factors. Impacts of climate change poses a threat on food diversity and food habit and food security in agrarian Bhutanese. The study aims to analyze if household food diversity and food habits are affected by climate change in the three ecological zones. Household food diversity and food habits in Gasa, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang districts (Dzongkhags) were compared and relationships were drawn. Household level data were collected using survey method from 368 randomly selected households, stratified into three agroecological zones, by administering pretested semi-structured questionnaire. The survey questions were designed using guidelines of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).  Food components consumed in the last 24 hours were recorded and grouped into 10 food groups. Food diversity indices are computed at the levels of household, Chiwog (village), Gewog (block), Dzongkhag (district), and at the whole study area. Spearman’s correlation tests were used to evaluate relationship between household food diversity Index (HFDI) and Food habit with Climate Change and Elevation. Kruskal Wallis tests ascertained association among the same four sets of variables with three Dzongkhag (district) as independent variable.  In both sets of tests, the relationships were statistically significant. Climate change is affecting food diversity and food habits in the three agroecological zones. Introducing mass potato cultivation in Gasa, less water intensive rice variety in Punakha, and high yielding Jersey cows for dairy are recommended for food diversity enhancement in the study areas. Preserving traditional food culture like Aoolay from Gasa, and conserving biodiversity will contribute to mitigate impacts of climate change on food habits to achieve food security.

Keywords: Agroecological zones, food diversity, food habit, mass potato cultivation, less water intensive rice variety, high yielding Jersey cows


How to Cite

Chapagai , Purna P., Om Katel, and Penjor. 2023. “Household Food Diversity and Food Habits in Changing Climate of Western Bhutan”. International Journal of Environment and Climate Change 13 (9):2463-77. https://doi.org/10.9734/ijecc/2023/v13i92480.

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