Effect of salinity on food security in the context of interior coast of Bangladesh
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The Southwest (SW) region of Bangladesh is facing salinity intrusion both environmentally and anthropogenically. In that circumstance, the dominating livelihood agriculture is affected severely including soil and ground water degradation, health problems and long term effect on ecosystem. Study from the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) found that, from 2000 to 2009, saline water intrusion increased up to 15 km north of the coast and in the dry season reached up to 160 km inland, entering into other interior coastal districts as well due to low flow from upstream rivers. In line with that, this article explored local people’s experience with salinity intrusion in interior coast of SW region. Along with semi-structured & open ended questionnaire five focus group discussions and eight interviews were conducted to outlines the relationship between food security and salinity intrusion in regards of crop production and examines the impact of salinity on the crop production. The analysis found salinity in both soil and water is favorable for rice cultivation, although yield loss in every year has increased. Community shifted from native to high yield rice varieties to increase production and cope with soil salinity, in turn, the activity increase fertilizer and pesticides usage. Additionally, oil seed, sugarcane and jute cultivation has discontinued for twelve years due to inability to cope with current salinity level. Some other reasons put forward for saline intrusion includes lack of fresh water in the dry season, and saline encroachment from sea through downstream rivers. Through identification of salinity in the study area, the study suggests to measure impacts rigorously and imply necessary adaptation even though the saline level is favorable for rice, to protect interior coast from suffering like exterior coastal districts.
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