How climate change threatens global food security -Nazmunnaher Nipa
Agriculture is the backbone of a country and it is synonymous with food security in the country. In addition to achieving self-sufficiency in food, ensuring food for all has been adopted in the ‘Vision 2021’ of the Government of Bangladesh. The pressure to increase crop production has been aroused by rapid population growth and this is the most important challenge.
In addition to food security, the sector contributes about 12% of GDP and employs 44% of the country’s workforce. For these reasons, the government has given the highest priority to agriculture. Agriculture is directly related to rural poverty because it is the livelihood of the rural poor who are the majority population.
Bangladesh is a country located between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal, this country is at risk of natural disasters. Climate change accelerates the intensification of salinity, storms, droughts, erratic rainfall, high temperatures, flash floods, etc. Agriculture is a unique contributor to income and employment generation in Bangladesh. Grain production increases rural income and creates employment for the poor.
Agriculture is the most risky sector, as its productivity depends entirely on climate factors such as temperature, rainfall, light intensity, radiation and duration of sunshine. The effect of temperature on grain production plays an important role. Each crop has a temperature range to increase fertility.
Impact of rainfall on crop production: Rainfall affects grain production mostly. It is one of the major climatic factors in crop production. Water is required for the development of all crops. But excess rainfall, floods and waterlogging conditions cause crop damage.
It was observed that 1 mm increase in rainfall at plant, reproductive and mature stages has reduced the production of aman paddy by 0.036, 0.230 and 0.292 tonnes respectively. Water scarcity limits crop production while irrigation coverage provided by Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) is only 5%.
Impact of sea level rise on crop production: Sea level rise affects agriculture in three ways such as by salinity infiltration, by floods and by increasing the frequency of cyclones and profoundly affecting its erosion. The combined effect of these three factors is to reduce agriculture in coastal areas. Infiltration of salinity due to rising sea level will decrease in agriculture due to lack of fresh water and soil degradation.
Salinity also reduces the moderate strength and germination rate of some plants. Various studies have shown that the investigation into the decline in paddy production in a village in Satkhira district revealed that the production of paddy in 2003 was 1,151 metric tons less than in 1985.
Of the total decline in production, 77% was due to conversion of paddy fields to shrimp ponds and 23% was due to reduced yields. It is already known by scientists that the reason for the increase in the level of more fields. Therefore, it is expected that the loss of agricultural crops will be more in the future.
Impact of floods on crop production: Floods have had the most detrimental effect on crop production in Bangladesh. As a result of the 1988 floods, agricultural production has declined by 45%. Every year, thousands of hectares of crops are destroyed by floods.
Impact of Drought on Crop Production: Drought is affecting crop production due to climate change. Most of the time pre-monsoon and post-monsoon affect Bangladesh. In the last 50 years, Bangladesh has suffered from about 20 droughts. Droughts in 1981 and 1982 only affected the production of monsoon crops.
Drought conditions in north-western Bangladesh in recent decades reduced paddy production by 3.5 million tonnes in the 1990s. Fruits of other crops (all rabi crops, sugarcane, tobacco, wheat, etc.) as well as perennial agricultural resources such as bamboo, betel nut, litchi, mango, jackfruit, banana etc. are affected by the drought.
Unprecedented flash floods in the Haor region in early 2010 damaged about 1.5 million metric tons of rice. According to the World Bank and the OECD, climate change could be 40% risky for Bangladesh in the Foreign Development Assistance. Growth in the country’s GDP requires increased growth in the agricultural sector. The OECD noted in a study that the increase in GDP per meter of sea level has increased from 28% to 57%.
Researchers at agencies under the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) are working to innovate technologies that ensure stable and expected crop production for climate change. Research and development of stress (salt, immersion, drought, high temperature) tolerant rice and wheat varieties can ensure food security by increasing yields by up to 20%.
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) BR-11, BR-33, BRRI Rice-22, BRRI-44, BRRI-4, BRRI-53 and BRI Rice-54 gene identification technology. Seeds of BRRI-4 variety are multiplied by Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) and promoted by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) for cultivation in saline prone southern districts. Innovations of short-term varieties like BR-33 and BINA-7 of Bangladesh Atomic Agriculture Institute (BINA) were successfully cultivated to avoid the so-called manga-infested condition of North Bangladesh. BRRI Rice-32 and BRRI Rice-52 may be submerged during flash floods.
It has been observed for a long time that climate change has become a major issue affecting agriculture. The impact of climate change on agriculture is a global concern but for Bangladesh where livelihoods depend on agriculture, it has become a major threat to national food security. Considering agriculture as a major component of the national economy, attempts have been made at various times to focus on the effects and vulnerabilities of climate change in agriculture in Bangladesh.
It also outlines ways to adapt to climate change and changing conditions and various strategies that can be adopted in response to Bangladesh’s saline tolerant, flood tolerant and less mature varieties of other crops. Research has also shown that these strategies will help in the short term and that these comprehensive agricultural extension services will benefit farmers. An urgent need is to start planning and implementing multi-branch-wide human skills development for climate and environmental management.
The issue of climate change has gained special importance due to the accumulation of evidence of global warming and now it has become a major challenge. Almost all countries are affected by climate trends and Bangladesh is comparatively more than others.
It has become a major threat to global development and to a country like Bangladesh, which has emerged as one of the most active developing countries on the global scene in tackling the challenges of climate change. Climate change and its adverse effects have become a stumbling block against all efforts to reduce the impact of the national poverty situation and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Climate stress tolerant technologies (seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and agricultural practices) and their extension studies serve as positive advocates against climate change. A comprehensive study on the real-time effects of assessment of the need to avoid crises on crop production and climate change should be conducted to make consistent policy decisions. Continuous research, observation and management of knowledge, technology development and transfer, management of climate change and its effects are required. Intensive training activities for the climate displaced community to adapt and deal with the new situation.
Thus, in order to sustain agriculture in a sustainable position along with climate change, emphasis must be placed on the development of tolerant varieties. At the same time, care should be taken to ensure that all agricultural inputs and latest agricultural technology are readily available within the reach of the farmers. Otherwise it will have a long term effect on the overall public life.
Writer : Student, Department of Environmental Science & Engineering
Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University