Can floating gardens help Bangladesh’s farmers withstand climate threats?

Source(s)
The New Humanitarian

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Climate change is making Bangladesh’s yearly monsoon rains more volatile and more intense – in some cases, severe floods have fuelled permanent migration away from rural areas. Agricultural experts say floating gardens can be one way of adapting to mounting disaster risks by strengthening food security.

Bangladesh’s government includes the expansion of floating agriculture as part of its climate change adaptation strategy, and various NGOs have set up projects elsewhere in the country. The UK-based Practical Action has worked with local groups to introduce floating gardens in Gaibandha district, in Bangladesh’s north, allowing people to grow crops throughout the year even when it floods.

But floating gardens have their limitations. The practice requires large stretches of land covered in still water through most of the year, enough water hyacinth plants – an invasive species – to build the floating rafts, and a market to make such farming profitable. And while floating gardens may be disaster-resistant, they’re not disaster-proof: it’s unclear how they’ll withstand further climate threats like drought, temperature rise, or soil salinity caused by rising sea-levels and storm surges.

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The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation considers Bangladesh’s floating gardens to be aglobally important agricultural heritage system – one of 57 examples of traditional or indigenous agriculture seen as adaptable to environmental threats including climate change.

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