The brackish-water coastal zone of the Ganges is home to some of the world’s poorest, most food insecure and vulnerable people. The Research for Development Program of the Ganges Basin Development Challenges (BDC) is set up with a goal to reduce poverty, improve food security, and strengthen livelihood resilience in coastal areas through improved water governance and management, and more productive and diversified farm systems.
Project G2 will contribute to this goal through developing and introducing more productive, diversified, and resilient agriculture/aquaculture production systems in the fresh-/brackish-water coastal zones of the Ganges delta in Bangladesh and India.
The project maintains strong linkages with other projects in the Ganges BDC, builds on the success of the Phase 1 CPWF projects in the Ganges, notably PN 10 and PN 7, and will leverage the ongoing work of other projects in the coastal zones of Bangladesh and India, especially STRASA, USAID-CSISA, and BRAC’s agricultural program.
It will use two complementary approaches: (i) farmer participatory validation/demonstration of promising crops, cropping patterns, homestead farming, and aquacultural technologies; and (ii) in-depth process analysis of new crop/aquaculture systems—using on-station experiments and simulation modeling.
The project has five specific objectives:
1. Validate new germplasm suitable for various agricultural cropping systems and establish seed distribution networks in target zones
Numerous salt-tolerant and submergence-tolerant varieties of rice are now available but have not been sufficiently tested for adaptation and suitability to replace the low-yielding rice landraces currently being used by farmers in coastal areas. Besides being tolerant of prevailing stresses, these varieties have higher yields, are short-maturing, and are more responsive to inputs, which will facilitate cropping intensification and further improve and stabilize the overall productivity of the region. These varieties will be widely evaluated with farmers in participatory varietal selection (PVS) trial settings and seeds of suitable varieties will be made available to farmers.
2. Develop and disseminate more productive, profitable, resilient, and diversified rice-based cropping systems (including rice-aquaculture)
The productivity of many coastal areas with low to medium salinity is very low and dominated by monocrops of rice during the wet season. There is potential to double or, in most cases, triple cropping, and increase current system productivity, farmers’ income, and food production. Rice varieties selected in activity 1 and water management will be used as the entry points to design more productive and sustainable rice-based systems.
3. Enhance the productivity of homestead production systems
Homestead farming provides opportunities for integrated aquaculture, agriculture, horticulture, and livestock activities, which could be profitable if managed scientifically. Women normally play major roles in homestead activities, including input supply and marketing. However, for most farmers in coastal areas, homestead farming has low productivity, but with enormous potential to enhance food diversity and economic conditions of farmers because of the sustainable production of various food sources that have a good market price. Farmers’ ponds can effectively be used for producing high-quality fish, and this can be integrated with other agricultural and horticultural activities to enhance the nutritional value of homestead products.
4. Develop novel brackish-water aquatic production systems for zones too saline for agricultural crops
These systems will be developed in areas with scarce freshwater resources during the dry season. Environmentally friendly low-input poly-culture aquaculture with improved and specially adapted fish/shrimp species will be developed. Increasing productivity in the dry season also helps alleviate farmers’ vulnerability to typhoons. Farmers thus have more stable and improved livelihood.
5. Produce technology and policy recommendations for up- and out-scaling
Efforts will be made to ensure ownership and support of policymakers and decision-makers to support the transfer of knowledge and technology. Government policy-enforcing agencies will be included during various stages of the project, and policy briefs, extension material, and interaction with local media will be extensively used as a means for further dissemination. We hope the outcome will be the recognition of the importance of suitable policies to strengthen the large-scale adaptation of new varieties, new technologies, and cropping systems in fields and in homesteads.
The expected outcomes of the project include (i) decision-makers/policymakers endorse the use of modern varieties, technologies, and homestead and cropping systems and provide policies/support that enable widespread adaptation of research findings; (ii) seed producers will produce adequate validated varieties for farmers; and (iii) large-scale adaptation of the more productive, profitable, and stable cropping systems in fields and in homesteads.
Lead by IRRI, the partners are WFC, BRRI, BFRI, BRAC, CSSRI, CIBA.
To Phuc Tuong (firstname.lastname@example.org).