Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bangladesh battles the impacts

IRIN: Bangladesh urgently needs support in developing a climate-resilient agriculture if its people are to survive and prosper in the long term, according to some experts. Climate change is affecting the country in many ways. For instance, rising sea levels are causing some agricultural land in coastal areas to become more saline, reducing both the quality and quantity of the produce available.

In southern districts where land is only centimetres higher than the brackish estuarine water, large swathes of agricultural land are becoming arid: Crop yields are shrinking as a result of increased salinity due to rising water levels in the Bay of Bengal.

Agronomists and agricultural experts now worry that creeping salinity will engulf more and more land in the low-lying nation. “The impact of climate change on agriculture is undeniable and will most certainly worsen if governments and donors fail to take appropriate steps right now,” Ghulam Mohammad Panaullah, former research director of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), warned.

Bangladesh needs support for climate-resilient agriculture, ActionAid said in a report at the UN climate change summit in Poznan, Poland, which ended on 12 December. Citing an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which said South Asia might experience a 30 percent drop in agricultural production by 2050, ActionAid said the slide was already evident.

…“Bangladesh is one of the worst affected among countries that are facing the early impacts of climate change,” said A.K.M. Rezaul Kabir, secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry….Bangladesh tops the Global Climate Risk Index 2009, followed by North Korea and Nicaragua. Launched at the UN climate change conference in Poznan on 4 December, the index lists 170 countries and was drawn up by international NGO Germanwatch.

A raised vegetable bed in Bangladesh helps maintain the soil's moisture. Photo by IRIN

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