Saturday, 2 July, 2022

Climate change menacing Bangladesh’s agriculture

Climate change menacing Bangladesh’s agriculture

Bangladesh is an agricultural country that produces a variety of crops such as rice, legume, wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, et cetera. Agriculture and fishery play a vital role in Bangladesh and its economic development. According to the World Bank report, agriculture has been reducing poverty since 2000. More than 61% of the country’s population reside in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture for livelihood and employment. Unfortunately, due to climate change, our agriculture is being impeded and will continue to degrade more if we don't adapt to the radical change faster. Climate change is one of the most severe threats to the world community. If we cannot save our agriculture from climate change then a lot of lives would be at risk since a huge population's income source relies on agriculture only.

The features of Bangladesh (Geographic location, low topography, rural agrarian economy, high population, poverty) make it one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Numerous studies imply that Bangladesh’s agricultural yield will diminish with increasing temperature and climate change. Climate change is a matter of concern. Its effect is adverse, especially in countries that are socially, economically, and geographically disadvantaged, for example, countries such as Bangladesh. Bangladesh is at a high risk of facing challenges due to future climate change. It would bring about a lot of drawbacks to our agriculture from every perspective starting from yield to crop due to its low topography. Increased temperature, irregular rainfall, and more frequent natural disasters are a problem for the food security of the rising population of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s entire agriculture is in danger of climate change, but the coastal regions are more exposed to climate change due to their geographical location and the Bay of Bengal being nearby. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP has dropped from 17% to 12.92% in the year 2020 due to the Global Pandemic. Even though we managed to tame the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a subject to be worried about.

Cause of Climate change

The countries that produce the most Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are accountable for climate change. But the most suffering is endured by the least developed countries which emit less CO2. Global warming is a result of climate change due to CO2 and other anthropogenic activities. It is melting the polar ice caps and raising the sea level. As the sea level rises, low-lying regions will be inundated. The people of the country are at great risk of losing their homes which might go under water, Bangladesh may lose its landmass by 11% in the upcoming years and people will have to migrate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that we humans are the reason for climate change, the temperature will increase quicker than in the past 10,000 years. This would cause a lot of changes in our seasons which will hinder agriculture.

Challenges due to Climate change that Bangladesh might face

According to numeral research, Bangladesh's agricultural productivity would decrease as a result of rising temperatures and climate change. Many models and projections like the GFDL (Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory) model say that rice and wheat production can rapidly decrease by the end of the 21st century. Rice and wheat are one of the main foods consumed by Bangladeshis. Not only foodgrains but our fisheries can be affected too. Fish are very sensitive to their environment. A slight change in their surroundings is enough to take their lives. Increase in water temperature can bring about changes in their productivity, migration and spawning, algal bloom, and also death. Already we saw what happened in Cox’s Bazar. Thousands of dead fish showed up on the shoreline. This is just one example: thousands of fish are dying every day due to anthropogenic activities around the world. Recently, micro plastics have been discovered in the human bloodstream. This happened due to biomagnifications, the food we consume like fish and meat is contaminated by the plastic pollution for which we humans are responsible. These man-caused activities are one of the core reasons behind climate change. So, according to IPCC's prediction, the GFDL model might come true for Bangladesh. It is projected that climate change would exacerbate and increase the frequency of natural disasters, resulting in deterioration in coastal agricultural systems. IPCC also predicts that tropical cyclones, storm surges, and the saline water floods that accompany them will be extremely serious along Bangladesh's coast as a result of climate change. After these natural disasters, it takes time for the land to recover back to normal again and forces farmers to shift to other places as result hinders agriculture. On the other hand, seasonal and climatic changes are also terminating our agriculture. National Adaptation Programme Action states the temperature rise alters annual rainfall timing and duration, relative humidity, wind flow, and pressure, increases natural calamities subsequently dwindles agricultural production.

Climate change balking our fisheries:

According to a study conducted by the SAARC Meteorological Research Council (SMRC), the sea level is rising along Bangladesh's coast. SMRC found that the pace of sea-level increase along the Bangladesh coast is many times higher than the worldwide rate of sea-level rise over 100 years.

As per the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), groundwater concentrations in some Upazilas in the Satkhira district have risen to 5000 micro-siemens/ indicating that it would decline the coastal lands and we will lose our freshwater resources which would aggregate in the loss of freshwater species. Losing the freshwater species can increase poverty and hunger in Bangladesh as fish is one of the cheapest protein sources to feed our increasingly impoverished population. Salinity Intrusion, rise in temperature, and increase in sea level will hamper our fish stock significantly.

Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change:

It's high time that our farmers shift to other adaptive measures to secure our agriculture. Farmers can apply different methods to reduce the harmful effects by increasing the crop yield through other new technological methods. Our government is also taking measures to save our land and agriculture from climate change. The government of Bangladesh is also attempting to implement fish culture techniques in response to rising flood levels and diversification of aquaculture techniques. New innovative methods to deal with natural disasters can be developed. To deal with climate change, we have another approach along with adaptation which is mitigation. If all the countries reduce the emission of greenhouse gases then it would cease climate change and its future adverse effects mentioned above. We need to produce more renewable energy with the help of technologies such as wind, solar, and hydropower instead of burning fossil fuels which releases greenhouse gas. Given this fact, climate change will not impact country-wise, but will affect every country as a whole. Hence, we need to mitigate and cooperate as ONE to stop climate change from growing. 


Tanzila Azad Nowreen, a student of Environmental Science at IUB