Researchers are calling for a higher number of crops that use less water to be introduced into agriculture in a bid to cultivate a culture of a more sustainable practice.
They also urged the government as well as research communities to focus on developing more crop varieties including staple crops like paddy, which can tolerate extreme weather events like saline, drought and submergence.
Citing an example of Boro paddy, former Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Asaduzzaman said: “This particular rice variety has ensured the country's food security in last two decades but at the same time, it has been reduced the ground water table drastically, because of its high water consumption.”
“But in the current changing climatic situation where water security is very vulnerable, we can not spend so much water for irrigating paddy,” he added while addressing a session titled Agriculture and Food Security held at the third Gobeshona Conference.
The government has been looking into alternative methods of cultivation and has introduced several agricultural technologies including dry direct method for Boro Paddy as well as a few extreme weather tolerant varieties for paddy and wheat.
Of them, the government has released night saline tolerant, seven drought-tolerant and two submergence-tolerant rice varieties in Bangladesh, since 2003.
The research communities have been engaged in finding less water consumptive but higher production paddy varieties through different studies.
Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) has taken an initiative to find the most suitable paddy varieties for the high drought prone areas of Barind Tract in Bangladesh, since last year.
According to their research findings the indigenous Aush rice, which needs less water for irrigation than ‘Boro’ is a good option for farmers in High Barind Tract (HBT) of Bangladesh.
“In our study, we have seen the indigenous Aush paddy varieties like Vharira, Kalomanik, Shankarbati and Pathorkuchi seem to have better potential to produce more paddy than the laboratory developed paddy varieties like BRRI Dhan 26, BRRI Dhan 55 and BRRI Dhan 48,” said Md Kamruzzaman, research co-coordinator of Climate Change Unit.
Regarding this finding, Dr Akram H Chowdhury, chairman of Barind Multi-Purpose Development Authority said: “The government should take the findings into consideration to promote the indigenous varieties as they have the natural adaptive capacity in the region.”