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Concerted effort needed to combat desertification, land degradation in Barind Tract

Concerted effort needed to combat desertification, land degradation in Barind Tract

Adopting time-befitting measures for combating desertification and land degradation process has become an urgent task in the Barind tract to boost agricultural production for ensuring food security amid adverse impacts of climate changes, speakers at a workshop here said today.
They pointed out that the existing major sectors of agriculture, fisheries, animal resource and biodiversity has started facing a serious threat because of desertification and land degradation caused by climate change. As a whole, the ongoing climate change at alarming rate has severely affected every sector posing a serious threat to food production. The observations came at a daylong regional workshop styled “Field Level Thinking towards Formulation of National Action Programme” held at Hotel Mukta International in Rajshahi city. Department of Environment (DoE) organized the programme in association with ‘Bangladesh: Revision and Alignment of Natural Action Programme’ and ‘United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’ aiming at updating National Action Programme based on opinion and suggestions of the grassroots stakeholders. Raisul Alam Mondal, Director General of DoE, addressed the opening session as chief guest while Additional Commissioner of Rajshahi division Munir Hossain and Divisional Director of DoE Ali Reza Mazid spoke as special guests with Jakir Hossain, Deputy Commissioner-in-Charge of Rajshahi, in the chair. Dr Sohrab Ali, Deputy Director of DoE, made welcome speech while Dr Sultan Ahmed, Director of DoE, made the vote of thanks.
In the technical sessions, Prof Dr Jahir Uddin, Prof Dr Altaf Hossain and Dr Sadika Haque from Bangladesh Agricultural University, Dr Abdus Sattar, Senior Consultant of DoE, and ATM Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of BMDA, presented keynote papers on different issues which have become vulnerable due to the climate desertification problem. The speakers stressed for conducting more research to innovate new technologies and ways for adaptation and expanded cultivation of stress tolerant and high yielding crops through popularising those among the farmers. The deteriorating rate of climate change cannot be reduced overnight and global efforts might start improving the situation at slow pace, but agro-productions must continue. They expressed concern as the climate change has affected country’s agriculture, irrigation, navigation, bio-diversity, weather and ground water table. Emphasis should be given on agriculture, food and social safety net, infrastructural development and disaster management and disaster risk reduction in the vast Barind tract. “Our traditional transplanted Aman cultivation was completely reliant on rainfall. But the cultivation has become irrigation dependent at present because of rainfall scarcity,” said Raisul Alam Mondal. Barind Multipurpose Development Authority is using around 14,000 power-driven deep tube wells, while the farmers are using more than 3.5 lakh diesel-run pumps in the region to save the Aman crop. He, however, said the enhanced arrangement of alternative modes of irrigation is not the only solution. “If it continues, the Irri-Boro cultivation will face a major problem, which depends on irrigation totally.”
The process of natural imbalance might take severe turn and even can stop agricultural production or reduce the same to such a level that would not be enough to feed the human being on the earth. The discussants mentioned that a large number of water bodies and wetlands have become derelict due to lack of adequate rainfall while the existing ones are being used for commercial purposes by the influential people posing a serious threat to the biodiversity especially the livelihood of the poor and marginal people. In the open discussion, the participants put forward a set of recommendations like massive afforestation, control of industrial pollution, application of bio-fertilizer, sustainable land management, soil health protection, promotion of drought tolerant crop varieties and conservation agriculture and farm mechanization. More than 70 participants representing the Government and non-government organizations, professional groups, academic institutions, mass-media and other concerned attended the event. -BSS, Rajshahi