Farmers need help with climate change adaptation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:14 AM, April 09, 2019

Farmers need help with climate change adaptation

Speakers say at MJF workshop

Change in climatic variables like excessive rainfall and salinity intrusion caused about half the damage to agricultural, fisheries and livestock production in some parts of the country's coastal belt, says a Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) commissioned report.

On the other hand, flood causes damage to about half of Aman rice production in some northern areas each year, it says.

Findings of the report, “Climate Resilient Agriculture in Coastal and Flood-plain Regions of Bangladesh”, were disclosed yesterday at a workshop arranged by MJF at the city's Krishibid Institution Bangladesh.

The qualitative research was part of an ongoing five-year project of MJF. It was conducted in eight upazilas under five coastal districts -- Bhola, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Satkhira and Barguna -- and two flood-prone northern districts, Gaibandha and Kurigram.

A research team collected data for the report through focus group discussion (285 participants), key informant interviews (66 participants), case studies, and literature review between May and November, 2018.

The report says in coastal areas, frequency and intensity of storms have increased in the last few years while erratic rainfall has affected agriculture production.

Due to excessive rainfall, farmers faced new types of pest infestation, it says.

Salinity caused foot disease of cows and fever of chicken and duck. Lack of forage reduced milk production, it adds.

Moreover, salinity induced an average of 30 percent production loss in fisheries, it mentions.

The report also says thunderstorms increased in the past four to five years, causing deaths of livestock and humans in three Gaibandha and Kurigram upazilas.

Besides, heavy rainfall hampered post-harvest activities and vegetable production, it says.

The research found lack of accountability and political interferences as barriers to effective functioning of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

According to the report, more than 80 percent farmers in Barguna use local rice variety while farmers of other coastal districts use high yield varieties. Limited cultivation of rice was noticed in most of the areas due to water scarcity in Kharif-1 (autumn) season.

Meanwhile, farmers cultivated rice in limited scale in Kharif-1 season in northern areas due to occurrence of late flood and low economic benefits.

As immediate action, the report recommended making hybrid, high yielding and resilient varieties available for both flood and coastal areas through coordinated efforts of private seed dealers, DAE, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation and research institutions.

As mid-term action, efforts should be made for introducing site specific cropping pattern and other adaptive technologies to minimise loss. As long-term action, maintenance and storage facilities of surface water could increase Aush rice cultivation. Excavation of canals could be encouraged, says the report.

Addressing the workshop, water resource and climate change expert Prof Ainun Nishat said agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors will face major challenges if global temperature rises more than two degrees Celsius.

“Farmers need help in adaptation due to climate change,” he said.

MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said a consensus is required in the country to tackle the negative impacts of climate change.

DAE Director General Mir Nurul Alam said new crop varieties have been introduced for climate change adaptation.

The country has made significant progress in agriculture. Aman and potato productions were higher than estimated in last season, he said.

Dr Abu Wali Raghib Hassan, research team leader; and Md Mahbubur Rahman, programme advisor, Environment and Climate Change at the Embassy of Sweden, among others, attended the workshop.

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