Agriculture is the largest economic sector of Bangladesh with 62 per cent of its people engaged in agriculture farming to manage their subsistence from agriculture production.
Around 87 per cent people of the country live in rural areas, and they rely on agriculture directly and indirectly. Agriculture plays key role in the process of economic development and it has a great contribution to the national GDP. According to the World Bank, in 1972, contribution of agriculture to the GDP was 52 per cent but gradually it has been decreasing and in FY2016-2017, the contribution of agriculture to GDP was only 14.79 per cent.
There are several reasons behind the fall in agricultural growth in Bangladesh that include rise of population , pressure on agricultural land and climate change.
Climate change is a major reason for the decline in agriculture productions. Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change, which causes river erosion, floods, flash floods and intrusion of salinity into the land.
Weather and climate play important roles in agricultural productivity. Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the various effects of climate change like changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, and rise in floods and droughts .
The impact of climate change is a great concern for Bangladesh, where lives and livelihoods depend mainly on agriculture.
Climate change occurs due to global warming causing rise on frequency of extreme weather which is very damaging for crop output.
Temperature and rainfall changes have already affected crop production in many parts of Bangladesh. A 4°C increase in temperature will take place due to the impact of climate change, it will have a severe impact on food production in Bangladesh - resulting in a 28 per cent reduction of rice and a 68 per cent reduction of wheat output.
Farmers say one of the most obvious fallouts of climate change is the gradual drifting of rain-fed rice season (aman) due to drought and delayed monsoon. If it would continue, the production of rice and wheat may fall by eight per cent and 32 per cent respectively by 2050.
Besides, climate change causes both irregular rainfall and heavy rainfall and already the intensity and frequency of flood and flash flood have increased recent years. Last year, flood and flash flood occurred in several places. In early March of 2017, the hoar areas of the country experienced severe flash floods that caused devastation of standing crops, infrastructure damage and human sufferings. According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the flash flood submerged 1, 41,000 hectares of farmland in six northeastern districts, affecting around 423,000 farmers. Devastation of crops and inundation of farmland due to flash flood decreased the agriculture production last year.
The intensity of salinity intrusion into farmlands in coastal area is growing due to rise in the sea level. According to Bangladesh National Adaptation Program of Action, the sea level along the Bangladesh coast is rising at about 3 millimeters a year. Salinity intrusion increased by 27 per cent from 1973 to 2009 (Soil Resource Development Institute, 2010).
Due to salinity, water logging and drought, about 30-50 per cent of agricultural land still remains uncultivable. Salinity affected 1.1 million hectors of land in these coastal areas. Due to this salinity rice production will fall by 8 per cent and wheat by 32 per cent by 2050. The increasing rate of salinity will lead to significant shortage of irrigation water for rice production. In the southern parts and coastal areas of Bangladesh groundwater aquifers are also affected by saline water.
Climate change has emerged as a big challenge for agriculture sector; so to keep the agriculture production growing, farmers have to follow adaption method to mitigate the effect of climate change.
The writer is a student of the Department of Development Studies at University of Dhaka.