Climate-smart rice benefits farmers

Researchers have found cultivation of two relatively shorter duration rice varieties and the use of water-saving technology yield higher income to farmers and affect the climate less.

They conducted an experiment in two upazilas of Chattogram, where farmers got three crops -- two rice and a mustard -- in a year by growing early-maturing rice instead of two rice crops.

This increased farmers’ income by 45 percent to Tk 108,317 per hectare. 

Furthermore, plantation of the short-duration rice crops cut greenhouse gas emission, minimising the impact on climate. 

“Farmers are benefited,” Md Rafiqul Islam, principal scientific officer and head of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), said at a workshop on promotion of climate-smart practices and varieties for intensive rice-based system in Bangladesh. The event took place in the capital’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and BRRI jointly organised the event to share the findings of the field experiments on water saving technology, alternate wetting and drying (AWD), and climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices in Fulgazi, Feni and Mirsharai, Chattogram.

CSA aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and income, adapting and building resilience to climate change and reducing agriculture’s contribution to climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, an UN agency.

Bangladesh, which is highly vulnerable to climate change, was chosen to run the pilot project on CSA practices to help the nations increase food productivity and mitigate the impact of climate change along with two other countries.

Under the initiative, a total of 20 hectares of land, with 10 hectares each in Feni and Chattogram, was selected. A total of 105 farmers were involved to grow short-duration rice varieties, termed climate-smart varieties.  Land usually remains fallow during the period between aman and boro rice season in areas where the piloting was done, Islam said. And, farmers prefer growing BR11 and BRRI Dhan 49 in Aman, and BRRI Dhan 28 and BRRI Dhan 29 during the boro season in these areas.

Under the initiative two short duration varieties -- BRRI Dhan 71 and BRRI Dhan75 for aman season -- were selected to grow. And, a mustard variety, BARI Sorisa 14, was cultivated as non-rice extra crop after transplanted aman harvest.

Researchers also followed AWD for irrigation during boro season and the use of water-saving technology AWD cut requirement for the number of irrigation by 27 percent, helping save water, fuel and energy without yield loss, according to the paper presented by Islam.

Less amounts of methane and greenhouse gas were emitted owing to cultivation of short-duration varieties and the use of AWD, said Arvind Kumar, director of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre. 

In Bangladesh, water markets with flat rates for water is needed to support the promotion of AWD, he said, while suggesting providing support and incentives to farmers adapting CSA technologies.

Now, the challenge is to upscale in other areas, said Humnath Bhandari, IRRI representative for Bangladesh, 

There is a need for increasing productivity of the agriculture sector and effectively mitigating impacts of climate change, said Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB.

He suggested the use of new technologies as it can reshape the agriculture sector.

“It can help address population growth, climate change and labour issues. Every aspect of farming can benefit from technological advancements -- from planting and watering to crop health and harvesting,” he added.

Climatic factors such as temperature, rainfall, atmospheric carbon dioxide, solar radiation are closely linked with agriculture production, said Md Shahjahan Kabir, director general of BRRI.

Therefore, rice production would be a major challenge to changing climatic conditions, he said.

Based on 1971-2015 data, the occurrences of warm days and nights are increasing. The frequencies of cold days and nights and cold spell duration are decreasing, he said. 

“This extreme climatic event may hamper rice yield,” said Kabir, adding that BRRI developed 24 stress-tolerant varieties to combat the adverse effect of climate change. Bangladesh Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor Lutful Hassan, Additional Secretaries of Agriculture Ministry Md Abdur Rouf and Kamalaranjan Das, Department of Agricultural Extension Director General Mir Nurul Alam, Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist of ADB Md Abul Bashar and leader of Water Resources Management team of ADB Zahir Uddin Ahmad also spoke.




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