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23 January, 2022 08:12:07 PM
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Climate-smart agriculture

In Bangladesh context, some of the practices of climate-smart agriculture have been existent in the name of traditional farming practices, especially in the southern coastal plains for centuries, in response to increasing floods and cyclones. But this is not significant to bring a rapid response of agriculture to the climate change.
Alaul Alam
Climate-smart agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is a pivotal issue in the world. To feed the growing population in the world we hardly see any alternative to introducing innovative technologies and practices in the arena of agriculture. In the recent years many countries are emphasizing climate-smart agriculture technologies to ensure sustainable farming. Climate-smart agriculture is an approach for developing agricultural strategies to secure sustainable food security under climate change. This concept refers to climate responsive agriculture which can sustain productivity amid a changing climate, enhance resilience and reduce greenhouse gases.

It is no denial that the world has seen a significant increase in agricultural productivity over the years. The spirit of green revolution has knocked at every corner of the world. There are many developing countries which have been able to achieve food security growing bumper crops using their limited agricultural land resource.

In this consideration Bangladesh may be taken as a glaring example. After her independence in 1971, the food productivity of the country has increased manifolds. It is evident that in the last 50 years the country has lost some of its agricultural land due to providing living spaces for the growing population. Though the cultivable land of the country is limited, the farmers have been able to produce more crops with the spirit of green revolution. Over the years, the country has attained food security to some extent.

However, the revolution in the global agriculture has not been able to mitigate the hunger problem completely. People of many African and Asian countries are bearing the brunt of food crisis. Reports estimate that there are about 800 million undernourished and 1 billion malnourished people in the world. Again, it is estimated that by the end of 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion. To feed up the entire population the agriculture productivity will increase by 60 per cent.

Certainly, there is no alternative to adopting innovative strategies in agriculture to ensure more productivity for the growing population. But the concerns are more pervasive due to the unprecedented climatic changes affecting agriculture sector drastically. Due to the increase of global temperatures caused by human activities along with weather variability and many more man-made and natural causes are shrinking agricultural productivity in the world.

Climate change is a threat to sustainable productivity in agriculture. In the Asian context Bangladesh is prone to experiencing a major threat in its agriculture due to gradual climate change which causes river erosion, floods, flash floods and intrusion of salinity into the land. The rise of sea level, rainfall variability and intensity of extreme weather, have considerable impacts on the country’s agricultural production.

It is true that the global climate change is beyond our control but the question is; how far we are committed to making our environment habitable? We are doing many unwise acts that are making the environment vulnerable. We see, in agriculture, farmers are so desperate to use the chemical substances in their field in a bid to ensure more productivity.

But it is evident that the increased use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and many more toxic substances are degrading soil qualities significantly. Not only that, this process has made a significant cost for farming. Amid all these the most concern is that they are causing great harms to the human beings, livestock, wild and aquatic lives and above all environment.

In Bangladesh the coastal zone suffers drastically due to the frequent visit of many natural disasters such as cyclones, storm surges and floods. Climate change is indirectly responsible for bringing such disasters. In these areas agriculture, fishing and farming undergo many challenges. Due to the constant threats in the agriculture of this zone, the government has identified the zone as agro ecologically disadvantaged region.

Every year huge amount of crops are damaged due to enduring shocks from climate change. Again, climate change leads to reducing crop yields, the nutritional quality of major cereals, and lowering livestock productivity.  But can we have a look to opening up possibilities for the farmers in the zone introducing climate-smart agriculture technologies?

Studies around the world have proved that climate-smart agriculture technologies bring huge possibilities to ensure sustainable food security. Many countries are seeing innovation using these agro-technologies. However, many may raise a question; is climate-smart agriculture an innovation ahead of green revolution?

Green revolution is undeniably a fundamental issue in increasing food production but climate-smart agriculture is built upon a technical foundation. For example, in this approach, there is a scope to use on-farm sensors for ensuring real-time management of crops and livestock systems. This approach allows agriculture with minimizing fertilizers and chemicals and encourages use of integrated crops and pest management systems. Digital technologies are used to monitor the weather and provide early warning services which ensure resilience in agriculture.

Climate-smart agriculture aims to achieve three outcomes. These are productivity, adaptation, and mitigation which are interlinked. First of all, climate-smart agriculture helps to increase productivity. Not only that, it ensures better food to improve nutrition security and boost incomes for the poor and marginalized communities who maintain livelihoods by farming. Secondly, it reduces the vulnerability caused by climate-related risks and shocks.

Crops grow with natural adaptability to face short and long term stresses caused by climate change. It helps to enhance resilience of agriculture.  Lastly, this strategy helps to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and avoids deforestation from agriculture.

In Bangladesh context, some of the practices of climate-smart agriculture have been existent in the name of traditional farming practices, especially in the southern coastal plains for centuries, in response to increasing floods and cyclones. But this is not significant to bring a rapid response of agriculture to the climate change.

Reports say that there are more than 30 per cent cultivable land in the coastal areas but farmers have merely the scope to cultivate most of the land in these areas during the winter but these are left fallow during other seasons. To help the flow of food productivity it is time to take initiatives on introducing climate-smart agriculture technologies not only in the coastal regions but also across the country that will help ensure sustainable food security.

However, it is appreciative that Bangladesh has taken initiatives to address climate-smart agriculture technologies to ensure sustainable agriculture. Apart from this, recently, at a two-day ministerial level meeting of D-8 countries the proposal of Bangladesh about an integrated project for developing climate-smart technologies is accepted by the alliance. This project will be implemented with financial and technical support from different international donor agencies and contribute to ensuring sustainable agriculture through their different ventures.

Lastly, we hardly have any options to fulfill the plan of food security and sustainable agriculture without taking initiatives urgently to use every piece of agricultural land wisely. Climate responsive agriculture will take the country’s agriculture sector to a great height where we will not only have food security but also have the guarantee of quality food.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS. Email: malaulalam@gmail.com

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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