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Opinion

Global Climate Change and Bangladesh Agriculture


Published : 25 Dec 2023 09:39 PM
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China, USA, India, EU27, Russia and Brazil-these six countries are the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases in 2022. Combined population of these countries accounts 50.1 percent of world's population, 61.2 percent of global GDP, 63.4 percent of global fossil fuel consumption, and 61.6 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The world's 152 least developed and developing countries together emit only 17.7 percent of carbon dioxide each year, which is an average 0.11 percent per country. But these poor countries have to fight today under influence of climate change, among which Bangladesh is the 6th country in mortal danger. 

GHG emissions in 2022 were primarily carbon dioxide, accounting for 71.6 percent from fossil fuel combustion. Methane gas contributes 21 percent of total, rest of emissions consist of nitrous oxide which is 4.8 percent and F gas 2.6 percent. As a result, GHG emissions increased by 1.7 percent to 53.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022. In 1970, GHG emissions were 24.5 billion tons, which increased to 33.27 billion tons in 1990. GHG emissions have now increased by 60 percent since 1990. Carbon dioxide accounts for nearly three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions and is a major driver of climate change.

Temperatures are rising as greenhouse gas emissions rise. Since 1880, Earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.140 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. Rate of warming has more than doubled since 1981; 0.32 Fahrenheit per decade rise. According to a NASA analysis, the global average temperature in 2022 tied for 5th warmest on record with 2015. Global temperatures in 2022 were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the NASA baseline period (1951-1980) average. 

Agriculture is a major economic sector of Bangladesh and in current context of the country, agriculture is main driving force of country. Geographical area of Bangladesh is 1,47,570 square kilometers of which about 80 percent is plain land, 11 percent is hilly in south-east and rest is highland in north. Main rivers Ganga, Brakshaputra and Meghna have more than 230 tributaries. Bangladesh is influenced by sub-tropical monsoon climate with 6 seasons. Minimum temperature of the country is 7 degrees Celsius and maximum temperature is 41 degrees Celsius. Average annual rainfall is 1429 to 4338 mm. And maximum rainfall i.e. 80 percent falls between July-October. A total of 201 cyclones hit Bangladesh between 1891 and 2023, causing billions of dollars in damage to crops, fish stocks and livestock, in addition to many deaths.

According to IPCC research, Bangladesh is in the 6th position among countries that are at risk from effects of climate change. Climate-related natural disasters in Bangladesh include floods, droughts, cyclones, temperature rise, sea level rise, heat wave, cold wave, hail, heavy rain, lightning etc. Climate change affecting staple Boro rice production decreased by 6.35 and 10.65 percent in 2007 and 2012 due to wind-based heat waves in the sub-tropical and northeastern regions of the country respectively. In 2023 also, due to severe heat wave in Haor region, about 14 thousand hectares of boro crops were severely damaged.

The country is losing 2 percent of GDP every year due to climate change and it is estimated that this loss will increase to 17 percent by 2050. Climate change is not only reducing agricultural yields in Bangladesh; It is also affecting food security, food safety and quality. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are increasing pest and disease outbreaks that threaten future food security. Extreme weather conditions degrade food supply and storage management infrastructure leading to food spoilage. According to a 2020 study by UNDP, Bangladesh's food system has been greatly affected by climate change, which has increased poverty and malnutrition in the country. Impact of climate change on food, health and nutrition security in Bangladesh is a complex issue surrounded by several problems. Most of the country's people involved in agriculture are marginal farmers, who lack the financing to invest in climate-resilient activities. Because of this, marginal farmers often rely on climate-sensitive agricultural technologies, raising concerns for food and nutrition security and environmental sustainability.

According to a 2018 assessment by IFAD, only 20 percent of the country's farmers were engaged in climate-resilient agricultural practices. Therefore, Bangladesh needs to work on sustainable climate smart technology innovation and expansion to increase food and nutrition security at rural level of the country as well as for stability with climate change. Also, to bring sustainability to food system of the country and to maintain productivity in adapting to changing environment, it is necessary to bring about changes and additions to cropping patterns in different climate sensitive areas of the country.

Various research institutes of the country have already developed climate tolerant crop varieties for various climate vulnerable hotspots of the country which are essential to take initiatives to increase the overall productivity of the country by expanding it at field level. Country's arable land is decreasing at a rate of 1 percent per year, while the population is growing at a rate of 1.3 percent, which necessitates a natural increase in the country's food production. But nature and climate change have already hindered that process. Therefore, only way to increase production while keeping food production process going is to develop new crop varieties adapted to changing climate and their rapid dissemination at field level. Significant technologies of climate tolerant crop varieties are:

Crops suitable for climate vulnerable hotspots

Saline area: Low salinity (2-4 ds/m): BRRIdhan74, BRRIdhan39, Moderate salinity (4-8 dS/m): BRRIdhan53, BRRIdhan54, BRRIdhan55, Salinity (8-10 ds/m): BR23, BRRIdhan40, BRRIdhan41, BRRIdhan73, Salinity (10-15 ds/m): BRRIdhan61, BRRIdhan67, Hyper salinity (>15 ds/m): BRRIdhan47, Haor area: BRRIdhan45, BRRIdhan58, BR18, BR19, Waterlogging tolerant varieties: BRRIdhan51, BRRIdhan52, BRRIdhan79, Drought tolerant Varieties: BRRIdhan33, BRRIdhan39, BRRIdhan42, BRRIdhan43, BRRIdhan89, BRRIdhan94, BRRIdhan95, BRRIdhan92, BRRIdhan56, BRRIdhan57, BRRIdhan66, BRRIdhan71, Fragrant Polao/­Biryani Varieties: BRRIdhan34, BRRIdhan37, BRRIdhan38, BRRIdhan70, BRRIdhan80, BRRIdhan90, Biofortified zinc rich varieties: BRRIdhan62, BRRIdhan64, BRRIdhan72, BRRIdhan74, BRRIdhan84, BRRIdhan100, BRRIdhan102, BINAdhan20, Aush varieties suitable for rainfed areas: BR21, BR24, BRRIdhan27, BRRIdhan65, Aush varieties of drought prone areas: BRRIdhan42, BRRIdhan43, BRRIdhan83, Common Aush Varieties: BR26, BRRIdhan48, BRRIdhan55, BRRIhan82, BRRI Hybrid Rice7, Aush for the lower area of Greater Barisal: BRRIdhan27, BRRIdhan85, Early Boro variety for all over the country: BR1, BR6, BRRIdhan45, BRRIdhan74, BRRIdhan84, BRRIdhan86, BRRIdhan96, Common Boro variety for all over Country: BR14, BR16, BRRIdhan29, BRRIhan58, BRRIdhan59, BRRIdhan64, BRRIdhan89, BRRIdhan92, BRRIdhan84, BRRIdhan64, BRRIdhan74, BRRIdhan96, BRRIdhan105, BINAdhan25, Hail tolerant Boro variety: BR8, BR9, Common Aman varieties for all over the country: BRRIdhan32, BRRIdhan33, BRRIdhan49, BRRIdhan75, BRRIdhan93, BRRIdhan94, BRRIdhan95.

Bitter gourd, gourd, brinjal, tomato, broccoli, cucumber, peas can be grown in saline soil with 3-5 DS/m. all year round. BARI Bagun-1, BARI Bagun-4, BARI Bagun-5, BARI Bagun-6, BARI Bagun-7 By applying mulching in saline land, farmer can get the normal yield of his land by cultivating in Winter. BARI Cauliflower-1 and BARI Cauliflower-2 can be cultivated in saline areas in August as early varieties, in September as medium varieties and in October as late varieties. BARI Lau-1 and BARI Lau-2 can be grown in saline belt from August to October. BARI gourd-1 can get normal yield of land by applying mulching in saline land in Kharif-1. BARI Mug-5, BARI Mug-6, BINA Mug-5, BINA Mug-7 can grow in saline areas in November. BARI Surjomukhi-2, BARI Surjomukhi-3, BARI Surjomukhi-4, Hysan-33 are suitable cash crops for saline farmers.

There are a number of Sugarcane variety can be successfully cultivated in drought prone areas, submergence areas, saline prone areas and flood prone areas of the country. 

Adapted climate-adaptive technologies to mitigate climate-related adversities, especially in saline areas, drought-prone areas, sub-arid areas, sub-flood areas, cold-prone areas, saline-tidal areas as well as following regionally popular and profitable cropping patterns, including paddy, there is ample opportunity to increase production of food and agricultural products according to needs of the country. Besides, the research institutes of the country will adapt to the changing environment of future and invent more tolerant and high-yielding crops, which will continue to increase crop production in the country according to the future demand.

Source of Information: USA EPA, NASA, IPCC, UNDP, IFAD, BARI, BRRI, BSRI, NCEI and others website report.


Dr. M. Monir Uddin (Agronomist), Consultant, 

GAIN Bangladesh