Back to Main Page



Rice Diversity and Production in the Southwest of Bangladesh:
Using Diversity and Local Knowledge to create Sustainable Livelihoods in the coastal Areas of Bangladesh.

The South-west Coastal Region : Consisting of Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira districts and the southern portion of Jessore district, was known for the abundant production of rice.

  Before the embankments (before 1960) the farmers used to cultivate hundreds of indigenous varieties of rice.
  But the embankments changed the character of the land.
  In the newly introduced freshwater regime, the farmers began to cultivate the newly introduced High Yielding Varieties (HYV) of Rice, which gave yields that were several times higher than the local varieties. This situation lasted for a short period.

The embankments, in course of time, led to the water logging, clogging of rivers due to siltation of the riverbeds, and also increased salinity.
The water logging has almost put a stop to all agricultural activities in the region, while salinity has seriously hampered rice cultivation.

Further south, in the brackish region, shrimp cultivation has replaced rice in most areas. As it needs less manpower than agriculture, job opportunities have also been reduced, resulting in steadily increasing poverty.

80% of the people in this region are malnourished, over 41% of children are born with less than 2.5 kg birth-weight, and 7.7% children die within one year of birth.
Demographic changes are also occurring. The present density of 487 persons per square km is likely to increase to 930 by the year 2020.

In this perspective, it is apprehended that a major portion of the population is likely to remain poor.

It is therefore necessary to involve more and more poor people in rice production. The cultivation of HYV rice requires a comparatively high level of inputs, which is beyond the capacity of the poor farmers. As such, we need to reintroduce the cultivation of indigenous varieties that are brackish water tolerant  and deep water tolerant.

It is in this perspective that, the project “Rice Diversity and Production in the Southwest of Bangladesh: Using Diversity and Local Knowledge to Create Sustainable Livelihoods in the  Coastal Areas of Bangladesh” has been formulated.

To increase the sustainability, security, and bio-diversity of the agriculture-based livelihood systems of resource-poor farmers in the Southwest of Bangladesh.

To make available a wide range of adapted modern and traditional rice varieties to resource-poor farmers in the Southwest of Bangladesh, through the initial collection and analysis of the existing  variety.

The Project is divided into  phases.
The output of Phase I will be :
  Collection and assessment of varieties among farmers
  Characterization of environments in the Southwest,
  This will be achieved through identification and selection of locations and farmers. Emphasis will be on the selection of areas where unfavorable (e.g.saline) ecosystems predominate.

These will comprise the main areas of collection of rice diversity. Both land-less and landed farmers will participate.

OUTPUT – I: Collect existing deep water, saline and other traditional varieties and passport data (farmers’ traditional knowledge).

Activities :  1) Assess Southwest Bangladesh Regions in terms of rice diversity.
2) Select and characterize sub-regions for varietal collection
3) Select farmers for participation
4) Train NGO collectors in proper method, timing and frequency of passport date and seeds.
5) Packaging and storing of seeds and data management.
OUTPUT – II : Enhance capacity of NGO staff in technical and sociological methods of Research.

Activities :  1)  Train NGO staff in managing research activities and organizations.
2) Train NGO staff in data and seed collection, managing on-farm and on- station trials of rice.
3) Enhancing NGOs and Farmers capacity to set up and evaluate a PVS trial.

OUTPUT – III: Establish the need for farmer testing and evaluation of the Collected Germ Plasm

Activities :
1)   Report to farmers the results of Phase I.
2) Conduct farmer stakeholder analysis in relation to germ-plasm bio-diversity.

After completion of the first phase, participatory critical review and assessment of the results will be held. The main objective of that assessment will be to decide as to which direction Phase II will take.

The activities in phase II will be:
Collection and characterization of varieties and ecosystems of Phase I

Evaluation, selection and dissemination of adapted varieties among farmers

This will begin with participatory variety selection (PVS) among area farmers.

Varieties for planting will be chosen through a matching of indigenous knowledge and the local ecosystem.

Farmers will be brought to the demonstration sites (or farmers fields) for PVS.

These will be multiplied and distributed to cooperating farmers and to seed multiplication sites.

Field days will be used to demonstrate the potential of the varieties.

Certified seed growers will also encouraged to try the varieties.

This is a Three-year Project.
This project has very unique characteristics. A lot of different types of organizations will be involved in a coordinated way. The organizations are,
 14 Local NGOs under the Umbrella of  Sustainable
Agriculture Forum, coordinated by  CDP.

 IARD  (Integrated Action Research and Development)
 AAS (Agricultural Advisory Service)

  IRRI will provide support for planning and coordinating the team and the project

  BRRI will provide technical know-how, training, and support for capacity building of the partner NGOs

  14 Local NGOs, coordinated by CDP will perform the actual fieldwork. CDP will coordinate the activities.

  Uttaran will conduct field work in some specific areas and will provide some training facilities to other NGOs.

  IARD will take the responsibility for documentation, training support, collecting socio-economic and anthropological information.

  AAS will provide technical and training support.

The strength of this project is that a lot of stakeholders from different fields will come together.
The local NGOs have intimate relationships with the stakeholders at grassroots level.

Rice Diversity and Production in the Southwest of Bangladesh:
Using Diversity and Local Knowledge to create Sustainable Livelihoods in the coastal Areas of Bangladesh.

Time duration: July 2001-June 30 2001 (1st page)
Collaborating Institutions


Training             AAS
Technical support        IARD
Documentation              UTTARAN

 Back to Main Page