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Development of adaptive varieties urgent to cope with climate change impacts

Development of adaptive varieties urgent to cope with climate change impacts — says BRAC research report. Bangladesh need to focus more on developing and selecting farming varieties that are adaptive to the country’s changing climatic siutation. Besides, a highly optimised system need to be put in place so that the climate-efficient varieties and technologies can be reached to the farmers in time. The government should also ensure that the farmers get fair price for their crops. Excavation of canals and ponds is urgent, while the entire irrigation system should be overhauled to optimise the use of water, fuel and power.

A research carried out by the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER) revealed the information. The Advocacy for Social Change programme of BRAC funded the research carried out in 2015 and led by eminent water resources and environment expert and Professor Emeritus of BRAC University Dr Ainun Nishat. Today on Sunday Dr Ainun Nishat presented the keynote in the light of the research outcome at a seminar styled ‘Climate-adaptive technology: Opportunities and challenges’.

Anwar Faruque, director general, seed wing, also additional secretary, ministry of agriculture, attended the seminar as the chief guest, while Shykh Seraj, director and head of news, Channel i, was present as special guest. Asif Saleh, senior director, strategy, communications and empowerment, BRAC and BRAC International, chaired. Dr Md Sirajul Islam, programme head, BRAC Agriculture and Food Security, gave the opening speech at the event jointly organised by BRAC Advocacy for Social Change and C3ER.

Describing the challenges Bangladesh may have to face in the coming years in agriculture sector, Dr Ainun Nishat said, the country is gradually losing its attribute as ‘the land of six seasons’ that remained its usual climatic identity for hundreds of years. The spring that used to fill up the space between the winter and summer is gradually disappearing. The late autumn season has become almost non-existing while the monsoon is setting in much later than when it is traditionally expected.

The production of Aman rice is the most affected by the climate change impacts right now, subjecting the farmers to repeated loss. This may eventually compel the farmers to move from rice farming towards vegetables and other financially profiting crops, said Dr Nishat. To keep the country’s rice production going on the farmers need varieties that are tolerant to these climatic changes.

He also observed that the impact of drought has increased in recent years. Describing the scenario of Naogaon, the field of the research, he said, in this district and in some other areas in north Bengal the farmers are producing mango in the field where they previously grew rice. The research also focuses on the management gaps in the existing irrigation system.

Anwar Faruque in his chief guest’s speech observed that besides developing new crop varieties, fair price for the farmers must also be ensured. To do this coordination among the government, non-governmental actors and private sector need to be strengthened, he said.

Media personality Shykh Seraj in his special guest’s speech called on BRAC and other non-governmental actors to strengthen their role in taking information on crops and technologies to the farmer.

Programme chair Asif Saleh observed that the marginal farmers in many cases become deprived of opportunities and services, owing to the procedural lingering of government departments and profit-centredness of private agro-based companies. BRAC, as a development actor, is trying to work in this gap. He stressed strengthening partnership with the media for effective advocacy in this area.

Besides, the speakers also observed that the farmers’ own knowledge and innovation should be given due worth and recognition.

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