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August 5, 2021

The Chhattisgarh

Beyond The Region

Bangladesh rice farmers invent new varieties to face up to salt, storms

Farmer Dilip Chandra Tarafdar was bored with preventing to maintain his rice crop alive within the Bangladeshi coastal village of Chandipur. If the crops managed to develop in soil made salty by many years of cyclones and floods, then robust winds would snap their stalks or pests would wipe them out. So, ten years in the past, Tarafdar, 45, regarded to his ancestors and began cross-breeding seed varieties that used to thrive within the southwestern Shyamnagar area however at the moment are on the sting of extinction after farmers moved onto higher-yielding varieties. His new sort of rice, known as Charulata, tolerates salty soil and water-logging, stays standing in excessive winds and grows nicely with out fertilisers or pesticides, Tarafdar mentioned.
Within the olden days, native folks might survive simply from the rice they harvested with out doing different work, he famous. “However we face many issues after planting paddy (rice). So, we now have provide you with a brand new methodology of cross-breeding to carry again the disaster-tolerant forms of paddy planted by our ancestors,” he informed the Thomson Reuters Basis.
The farmer mentioned his seed selection can produce as much as 1,680 kg (3,700 kilos) of rice per quarter hectare (0.62 acres), greater than double what he was getting from standard varieties. Repeatedly let down by seeds they purchase or get from the federal government, different rice farmers in Shyamnagar sub-district are additionally taking issues into their very own arms, reviving ancestral varieties and creating new ones that may stand up to more and more frequent storms, floods and droughts.
“Farmers on this disaster-prone space have executed an amazing job in preserving native rice seeds and inventing rice varieties,” mentioned S.M. Enamul Islam, the agriculture officer for Shyamnagar. That form of innovation is one cause agriculture remains to be a viable livelihood within the space, he added.
Shrinking farmland
One of many nation’s prime rice-producing areas, Shyamnagar gives work for about 45,000 farmers, in line with knowledge from the sub-district’s agriculture workplace. However the soil began getting saltier within the late Eighties, farmers mentioned, when shrimp farming picked up within the space.
To create their ponds, shrimp farmers used saltwater taken from rivers, which seeped into the encompassing rice fields. Then Cyclone Ayla in 2009 introduced excessive tides and tidal waves that submerged a lot of Shyamnagar, inflicting salt ranges within the soil to shoot up, mentioned A.B.M. Touhidul Alam, a researcher on the Bangladesh Useful resource Heart for Indigenous Information (BARCIK).
A number of cyclones and floods since then have made the bottom saltier, forcing many individuals to desert rice cultivation. Based on a examine by international charity Sensible Motion, between 1995 and 2015, farmland in 5 areas, together with Shyamnagar, shrank by greater than 78,000 acres as a lot was transformed to shrimp farms. And researchers warn that the water and soil in coastal Bangladesh will solely change into extra hostile to rice farming because the planet heats up. A 2014 World Financial institution report on local weather change results alongside the coast estimated that by 2050, rivers in 10 of the area’s 148 sub-districts would change into reasonably or extremely saline.
Hoping to create seeds that may survive such a state of affairs, Sheikh Sirajul Islam, a farmer from Haibatpur village close to Shyamnagar, arrange a rice analysis centre in his house, the place he shops greater than 155 native varieties. The farmer is engaged on a wide range of wild rice he hopes will be tailored for cultivation. It grows naturally in saltwater on the seacoast and riverbanks, however will not be as nutritious as farmed rice, he defined. He has already developed two different varieties that may stand up to saline water and water-logging, which he offers out without cost to greater than 100 farmers within the space. “I (additionally) plan to arrange a seed market on the town. Seeds won’t be bought there, they are going to be exchanged,” he mentioned.
Hope for the long run
Humayun Kabir, senior scientific officer on the authorities’s Bangladesh Rice Analysis Institute (BRRI), mentioned the farmers’ work on new seed varieties was making “a big contribution” to the event of agriculture on the native stage. A number of rice varieties developed by farmers over the previous few years – together with Tarafdar’s – have been despatched to the BRRI, which checks the seeds in its personal laboratories earlier than deciding whether or not to distribute them to farmers throughout the nation.
Whereas BRRI scientists have developed a minimum of 100 forms of rice already, together with some that may develop in salty and water-logged soil, farmers in Shyamnagar say most of them are both inefficient or unsuitable for the place they dwell. A number of informed the Thomson Reuters Basis the BRRI varieties usually don’t attain them and once they do, they’re too costly and never tailored to their disaster-prone space.
“I’ve planted them many occasions and the yields usually are not good,” mentioned Bikash Chandra, a farmer from Gomantali village, who now makes use of a neighborhood rice selection invented by Sirajul Islam. The BRRI’s Kabir mentioned the institute is engaged on methods to get its seeds out to extra farmers. Farmers have developed 35 disaster-resilient rice varieties over the previous decade, mentioned Partha Sharathi Pal, regional coordinator at BARCIK, which provides technical help to Shyamnagar farmers creating their very own varieties and shops the ensuing seeds. Most are nonetheless within the field-testing part, mentioned Pal, including that the outcomes have thus far been constructive. “Farmers (in Shyamnagar) have discovered options to their very own issues,” he mentioned. “Consequently, paddy cultivation has returned to many disaster-prone areas. It is a new hope for the farmers of the long run.”

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