Scientists have tested and identified improved and climate smart crop varieties and cropping patterns for charlands (river islands) of Bangladesh that. These will not only increase the overall crop production, but also increase the agricultural and farm income, and improve the livelihoods of the people residing in those areas.
These were revealed at a research titled “Rural livelihood, agricultural intensification, and climate change adaptation in the charlands of Bangladesh”. The outcome of the research was unveiled in a webinar on Tuesday.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) jointly implemented the research project funded by the National Academy of Science (NAS) and the USAID.
The pilot project was carried out in the period between 2018 to 2021 at Char Ganai, Kaunia under Rangpur district and Char Saula, Bauphal under Patuakhali district.
The main research activities were to understand the socio economic situation and livelihoods of the inhabitants, analyse climate risks and vulnerabilities, and evaluate improved and climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices in the charlands.
The ministry of agriculture’s secretary Md Sayedul Islam said 40 per cent of the country’s labour force is employed in agriculture and 70 per cent of population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture for livelihood.
The government has given high priority for agricultural development of unfavorable environments to improve food security, climate resilience and rural livelihoods, he said adding that the agriculture ministry and development partners have been investing for agriculture development of the climate hotspot regions including charlands.
“Many organisations are promoting improved agricultural technologies and strengthening the agriculture value chains in charlands. But more needs to be done to unlock the agricultural potential of charlands,” he added.
The speakers said Bangladesh is the seventh most climate change vulnerable country according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, and the charlands is one of the six climate hotspot regions in Bangladesh.
The total area of these charlands is two and a half times bigger than the area of Dhaka city and 60-90 per cent of this area is cultivable.
Agriculture, including livestock and fish farming constitute the main source of livelihood for more than eight million residents of the charlands of Bangladesh.
The charlands present a ripe opportunity for maximising crop production through development and promotion of appropriate, improved, and climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices. This has the potential to increase Bangladesh’s agricultural production, build resilience against climate change, provide livelihoods to rural communities, and ensure food security, all critical to achieving the SDG.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council’s (BARC) executive chairman Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar chaired the webinar while Debasish Sarker, director general of the BARI and Md Shahjahan Kabir, director general of BRRI were present as special guests. Kevin Fath, agriculture development officer of USAID, was the guest of honor.
IRRI Bangladesh office’s corporate services manager Elizabeth Anne Ali conducted the webinar.