FOR VEGETABLE CULTIVATION
A SMALL SCALE APPROACH FROM BANGLADESH
Bangladesh is prone to natural hazards due to its
geographic location. Many changes have been observed
in coastal area over recent years such as an increasing
number of incursions by the sea onto cultivated land,
increased impact of cyclones, crop fields being
converted into shrimp farming, and livestock rearing
decreasing drastically because of shortage of forage.
Saline water incursion into crop lands is increasing
leading to many farmers becoming effectively
“landless” even though they have land. Meanwhile,
statistics show that the total saline affected area at
Satkhira has increased to 1,31,000 ha from 1,25,000
ha from 2000 to 20091. These effects are further
exacerbated by climate change.
Atulia union under Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira district is the most saline affected area.
The devastating cyclone Aila, which occurred in 25 May 2009, completely inundated the area,
making it very vulnerable with high soil salinity. Due to the high existing salinity levels both in
surface and ground water the coastal communities are no longer cultivating vegetables
sufficiently to meet local demand and people now depend on vegetables from external sources.
Practical Action Bangladesh found that food security and income were the top priority issues
raised by local people in the area. Therefore Practical Action Bangladesh vegetable cultivation
in Atulia as part of a climate change action research project. Thirty households took part in a
soil desalination experiment. This has successfully completed its first phase. They produced
727 Kg of vegetables such as bitter gourd and sweet gourd.
The experimental soil desalinization process is done during the dry season. It is very easy to
desalinize soil during monsoon as rain water is available everywhere but the monsoon is very
short in Bangladesh lasting for only 4 months.
In the dry season, though it is difficult to access fresh water, the soil can be desalinized by
collecting water in containers from fresh water ponds or tube well close to the area by vehicle,
usually a load carrying tricycle similar to a rickshaw. This method of growing in pots enables
people to cultivate without large amounts of water.
Firstly, the required saline soil is placed in a container. The containers used were large
ceramic pots some of which were one metre wide and one metre deep although any container
could be used and the size of the container is not critical.
1 Salinity survey - 2009, Prothom Alo, 22 March 2010 (source: SRDI).
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