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Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)

Climate change adaptation of rural households in charlands of Bangladesh

PI: Humnath Bhandari,, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
U.S. Partner: Charles (Chuck) W. Rice, Kansas State University
Project dates: March 2018 - February 2021

Project Overview:

6-005_Bhandari_A smallholder farm family preparing groundnut to sell in a market
A smallholder farm family preparing groundnuts to sell in a market 
The agricultural production system in the charlands of Bangladesh is characterized by rainfed cultivation, low nutrient levels in the soil, the raising of traditional crop varieties with conventional management practices, poor access to agricultural technologies and services, poor linkage to markets, and low cropping system intensification and diversification. In addition, charlands agriculture is highly prone to climatic stresses (flood, drought, salinity, river and coastal erosion, moisture stress, and tropical cyclones), and local farmers suffer losses every year. The changing climate will amplify these problems in the future and make charland livelihoods precarious. The adoption and adaptation of climate-smart agriculture options (such as different crops or varieties, cropping systems, or management practices) can significantly reduce the negative effects of and build resilience to changing environmental conditions. Not all these climate-smart options, however, are appropriate for every location. Their use is determined by several factors, such as biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics, climate conditions, technological suitability to the local ecosystem, farmers’ perceptions and behavior, market systems, and economic viability.

The charland areas have been largely neglected by the government and development agencies and hence such information is often lacking. The main objectives of this project are to understand charland characteristics and the livelihoods of local residents, examine households’ vulnerability and adaptation to changing conditions, and promote climate-smart agricultural technologies in charlands.

To achieve these objectives, the project team will work in two charland sites representing flood-, drought-, and salinity-prone ecosystems: 

(i) Ganai Char located in Kaunia Upazila in Rangpur District representing the Charlands of the northern region and
(ii) Shaula Char in Bauphal Upazila in Patuakhali District representing the Charlands of the coastal region.

In the representative study sites, the project will conduct baseline, endline, and special purpose surveys; analyze factors determining adoption of climate-smart technologies; assess economic viability (profitability and risk) of existing and new cropping systems; test and evaluate climate-smart technologies; and recommend economically viable and demand-demand climate-smart technologies for dissemination. Researchers from Kansas State University, who have vast expertise on climate-smart agriculture, will provide technical support and guidance to design and implement project activities and help build research capacity through training on advance research methods and tools.

Project updates:

The project is running smoothly.  Improved rice varieties evaluated in the pre-Kharif season (BRRI dhan48 and BRRI dhan19 in Char Ganai) and (BRRI dhan48 in Char Saula) were harvested. At both sites, rice varieties were partially damaged by flooding. On average, improved varieties gave about 0.5 t/ha higher yield than the traditional varieties. During the most recent reporting period (June -September 2019), both sites experienced heavy flooding. Initial flooding severely damaged rice seedlings and farmers need to prepare rice seedlings again. Subsequent flooding partially damaged rice plants. Because of the flooding in the wet season, only rice can be grown, which can also be done only in a limited areas.  In Char Ganai, improved rice varieties (BRRI dhan52, BRRI dhan71, and BRRI dhan87) were cultivated in 1.9 ha for evaluation. However, the crop was fully damaged by the flood and the same varieties were resown and re-transplanted in 1.33 ha. The crop was harvested at its maturity stage in mid November. Crops remain highly vulnerable to flood risk in the Char Ganai. In Char Ganai, the project team are also evaluating the performance of the Fallow-potato-onion/ground as well as T. Aman rice--potato-onion cropping patterns against the farmers' practice.In Char Saula field site, improved and climate-smart rice varieties (BRRI dhan49, BRRI dhan51, BRRI dhan52, BRRI dhan72, BRRI dhan76, and BRRI dhan91) were cultivated in 1.6 ha for evaluation in the coastal area. The crop was partially damaged by the flood but survived. All varieties are at the booting stage and expected to give a higher yield than the traditional varieties and crop is anticipated to be harvested in the first week of December. At the same site the team is also evaluating the performance of the T. Aus rice--T. Aman rice--Wheat as well as T. Aus rice--T.Aman rice--Mustard cropping patterns against farmers' practice.
Field experiment data on rice variety name, planting and harvesting time, input use, field duration, yield, quantity consumed and sale, farm gate price, etc are being collected from farmers involved in the experiment. Four M.Sc students (two male and two female) are conducting their thesis research in the project sites. Focus group discussions with farmers were conducted in Char Ganai during 29-31 July 2019. The project team collected biophysical and socioeconomic information of the village and households including farming systems, livelihood activities, and household coping strategies to climate extremes. A large part of the village is inundated in the rainy season and hence remain fallow in the wet season. In the wet season, rice is grown in a limited area. In the dry season, rice and non-rice crops are grown. The main livelihood activities in the Charland are crop cultivation, homestead gardening, migration, and wage labor. Major cropping patterns are Fallow--potato/groundnut--rice, rice--potato-groundnut, rice-maize-jute, and fallow-vegetables-fallow. Farmers mainly grow crops in the dry season. Main dry season crops are rice, groundnut, potato, maize, and onion. 

In the upcoming six months the team plans to harvest wet season rice varieties and collect field experiment data. Training of male and female farmers on improved agricultural technologies and practices will be ongoing.Four students will conduct their thesis research and a survey of 300 households will be conducted.Finally, the project team is planning to finalize the focus group discussion report and publish a paper.
 6-005_Bhandari_ _Onion harvested in Char Ganai6-005_Maize harvested in Char Ganai 
 Onion harvested in Char Ganai Maize harvested in Char Ganai, [Photos courtesy of Dr. Bhandari]

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