Seasons changing in Bangladesh

The Daily Star, June 28, 2011
Lengths of winter, summer and rainy seasons in Bangladesh have increased, while spring has decreased, changes that are likely to have an adverse impact on agriculture, said a study based on farmers’ perceptions.

Winter, traditionally around two-and-a-half months long, now prevails for three-and-three-quarters, while summer takes five months, almost double the past usual length.

On the other hand, rainy season, normally two-and-three-quarters, prevails for around three-and-a-half months, while spring is now one-and-a-half months, nearly half a month less than before. Autumn and late autumn continue to remain the same, it says.

“It is expected that an increase in the length of summer season will adversely influence crop plantation and an increase in the rainy season will adversely impact ripening and harvesting,” it said.

The study “A perception study: Climate change and food security in South Asia” was conducted from October to November in 2010 on 1,200 farmers — 300 each from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The farmers revealed their experience on climate change during the past 11 to 20 years.

Practical Action, Bangladesh; Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan; Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society, India; and Afghan Development Association, Afghanistan; conducted the study.

The study was presented at a regional meeting on climate change and food security jointly organised by Practical Action, Bangladesh and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) International, India in the city’s Brac Centre Inn yesterday.

Dr Faruk-Ul-Islam of Practical Action, Bangladesh said the farmers found rain and floods unpredictable, troubling them in planting and yielding crops.

Consequently, poor farmers trying to ensure their food security cannot completely depend neither on farm outputs nor on the market as food prices are volatile, he said.

Farmers in the northern region of Bangladesh face drought, those in the coastal areas suffer from salinity and flooding is unpredictable in flash flood prone areas. All these facts are affecting agricultural productivity and thereby food security, he noted.

Manbar Khadka of CUTS said summer season in India expanded by more than a month, resulting in the shortening of other seasons, especially the rains.

“Farmers are now being pushed toward adopting new cropping patterns and other initiatives to cope with the scenario,” says the study.

Most of the study’s respondents said both frequency and intensity of climate induced disasters are increasing.

Under such context, the study suggested fast introduction of adaptation technologies, diversifying crops and developing varieties resilient to drought, flood and salinity.

The South Asian region should collaborate more on exchanging new varieties and technologies, removing regional trade barriers, activating South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation food bank and developing early disaster warning systems.

The governments should also take policies like crop insurance, which could protect small farmers from crop damage during natural disasters, the study said.

Agriculturists, economists and food experts from the South Asian nations attended the meeting.

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