Farmer Dilip Chandra Taradar is tired of struggling to keep his rice crop alive on the shores of Bangladesh. If the plants can grow in the salty soil of decades of storms and floods, strong winds will catch their nests or destroy their pests. So, ten years ago, the 45-year-old Taradar looked to his ancestors and now the farmers who grew up in the southwestern part of Shimmagar are now extinct. He said the new type of rice, called Chulata, is resistant to salty soils and waterlogging, and grows well in high winds without fertilizers and pesticides.
In the past, the local people could only survive on the rice they harvested without doing any other work, he said. “But after planting paddy, we have a lot of problems. Therefore, he said, we have come up with a new method of cross-breeding to restore the endangered species of paddy. Thomson Reuters Foundation.
According to the farmer, the seeds can produce up to 1,680 kilograms (3,700 pounds) of rice per quarter hectare (0.62 hectares), which is twice as much as conventional varieties. Other rice farmers in Shimanagar woreda are taking matters into their own hands, renewing their ancestry and creating new varieties that can withstand increasing hurricanes, floods and droughts.
“Farmers in this vulnerable area have done a great job of protecting the local rice varieties and cultivating rice varieties,” said Sh. He added that such innovation is still one of the reasons for the survival of the region.
According to the sub-city’s agriculture office, Shiyamnagar, one of the country’s largest rice-producing regions, employs about 45,000 farmers. However, in the late 1980’s, the soil became salty when farmers began growing shrimp in the area.
Shrimp farmers used salt water from rivers that flowed into nearby rice fields to create their own ponds. Then Cyclon Aila Extreme levels of flood danger were announced in 2009, according to ABM Tuhidul Alam, a researcher at the Indigenous Knowledge Center (BARCIK) in Bangladesh.
Since then, many hurricanes and floods have salvaged the land, forcing many to abandon their rice fields. According to a study by the International Practical Organization, between 1995 and 2015, more than 78,000 acres of farmland in five areas, including Shimmagar, were converted to shrimp farms. Researchers warn that water and soil in Bahir Dar Bangladesh could become more hostile to rice farming as the planet warms up. According to a 2014 World Bank report on coastal climate change, by 2050, 10 of the region’s 148 sub-districts will have medium or high salinity.
Sheikh H. Sirajul Islam, a farmer from the village of Habat P near Shimanagar, set up a rice research center in his home, hoping to create a seed that could survive. The farmer is working on a variety of wild rice, hoping it will be suitable for farming. It grows naturally in salt water on beaches and riverbanks, but it is not as nutritious as rice, he said. It is ahead of two other species that can withstand the free salt water and water cuts provided to more than 100 local farmers. I am planning to set up a seed market in the city. Seeds are not sold there, they are exchanged.
Hope for the future
According to Humeun Kabir, a senior science officer at the government’s Rice Research Institute (BRR) in Bangladesh, the farmers’ work on new varieties is contributing “significantly to the development of agriculture in the area.” Over the past few years, many rice varieties grown by farmers, including Taradar, have been sent to BRI, which tests the seeds in its own laboratories before deciding to distribute them to farmers across the country.
Although BRI scientists have already developed at least 100 varieties of rice, including those that can be grown in salt and water-soaked soils, most farmers in Shimgar say they are ineffective or unsuitable for habitat. Many b Thomson Reuters Foundation BRI species are often unavailable and are not very expensive and dangerous in their environment.
Bikash Chandra, a farmer from Gomatali, who now uses rice varieties invented by Sirajul Islam, said, “I have planted them many times and the produce is not good.” According to BRI Kabier, the institute is working on ways to bring the seeds to more farmers. Farmers have produced 35 endangered rice varieties over the past decade, said BARCIK Regional Coordinator Parta Sharati Pal, which provides technical assistance to Shimanagar farmers to grow their own varieties. Paul said most of them were still in field trials, adding that the results so far had been positive. “Farmers (in Shimanyagar) have solved their own problems,” he said. As a result, Paddy’s farm has returned to many high-risk areas. This is a new hope for future farmers.