February 26, 2016

26/02/2016: Rice-fish integration for high saline, coastal areas of Bangladesh

Learning from the Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF)

The Southwestern coastal zone of Bangladesh is agro-based and one of the world’s most populous, poverty-stricken and food-insecure regions, with high vulnerability to climate change, The Global Aquaculture Advocate says.

Shrimp aquaculture rapidly expanded in this tidal floodplain but shrimp is highly susceptible to disease, has less contribution in local consumption, and its profitability depends on international market prices, leading the demand for improving the farming system.

There is an opportunity to diversify and increase system productivity by integrating rice with aquaculture during the monsoon season through adoption of some water management practices at an individual and community level. This also minimizes the effluent load of aquaculture intensification.

Image: Paul Hamilton
In Bangladesh and for centuries, local people have practiced traditional coastal aquaculture to grow shrimp, fish and rice in ghers, which are modified, low-lying rice fields with raised dikes. This farming is very extensive, producing shrimp at ~250 kg/ha/year and with a few brackishwater fish coming in with the tidal water, and local rice varieties yielding ~1,500 kg/ha/year. In the last decade, drainage systems both inside and outside the polder (low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes) deteriorated and challenged rice production. Farmers were also more interested in continuing shrimp farming, as this requires very low investment and gives higher economic return. However, low shrimp production, wide disease outbreaks, losing several crops in a year due to disease and flooding by coastal tidal surges have made the current farming system vulnerable. Coastal aquatic agricultural productivity also needs to increase to improve national food security.

The CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) research program on water and food (CPWF) engaged local farmers and carried out farmers’ field research in high saline areas of southwestern Bangladesh since 2012, to seek ways of making coastal brackishwater aquatic agricultural system more productive, profitable, diversified and resilient. Experiments were designed to test changes in saline regimes to refine existing brackish water aquaculture systems and make them more environmentally friendly, through adopting rotational monoculture and polyculture integrated with aman rice to allow crop rotation and risk reduction.

Read the full article HERE.

The Global Miller
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which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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