Bangladesh is predominantly an agricultural country where the agriculture sector plays a significant role in accelerating economic growth. Indeed, it is the largest economic sector of our country with 62% of its people directly and indirectly involved in agriculture.
According to the recent data from the World Bank, in FY2020-2021, the contribution of agriculture to GDP was only 11.6% whereas, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was 52% in the year 1972. Therefore, this trend is a matter of great concern.
The impact of climate change is a major cause of the decline in agriculture production. In particular, agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change such as changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, rise in floods, salinity intrusion into the land, etc.
Our marginal and small farmers face tremendous challenges in managing their production activities due to a lack of training on high-value crop production, diversification, and post-harvest technologies.
Furthermore, many rural farmers do not have access to the use of storage facilities or warehouses to store their crop production throughout the seasons. At the same time, they face problems while marketing their products because of a lack of preservation facilities, poor infrastructure, roads, and communications.
As a result, a large portion of their production becomes spoiled or they are forced to sell it at a price lower than the production cost. Needless to say, this substantially undercuts their income-generating potential.
In this regard, BRAC has developed the concept of an “Adaptation Clinic” for the climate-vulnerable farming community to facilitate relevant and climate-adaptive agriculture solutions in rural areas.
The concept was developed with a focus on climate-vulnerable areas to support farmers with year-round production options and facilitate market access. The model’s strength was to include the local-led adaptation (LLA) and socially acceptable science-driven technologies that the community will accept.
This concept has been executed by the Brac Climate Change Program (CCP), acknowledging the importance of investing in post-harvest infrastructural development and aiming to ensure food security. Since its establishment in 2021, this service centre has served more than 6,500 climate-vulnerable households in Bangladesh’s Patuakhali and Jamalpur district.
Notably, Bangladesh is globally recognized as the teacher of the climate change adaptation sector. Here are some ideas on ways in which the adaptation clinic could become an effective agricultural solution in tackling climatic events in Bangladesh.
First of all, the adaptation clinic is a one-stop, dynamic service centre where farmers could directly receive multifaceted services that would potentially enhance their adaptive capacity and increase farm productivity.
Moreover, the comprehensive approach of this service model will facilitate relevant, context-specific, and climate-adaptive agriculture solutions with a Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) lens at the community level.
The adaptation clinic offers an integrated solution to agricultural farming ranging from pre-cultivation measures to post-harvest management for climate-vulnerable region’s farmers and farming.
Overall, the adaptation clinic will promote climate-adaptive farming practices, conserve nutrients, and reduce the loss and waste of agricultural products considering the vulnerability of climate change.
To implement the climate adaptive agriculture activities smoothly as well as provide need-based support to the farmer communities, the adaptation clinic will provide a wide range of climate-resilient solutions through assistance and sensitization mechanism including advisory services, agricultural input support (seed, fertilizer, etc), technical knowledge dissemination through enabling information access, year-round capacity enhancement scopes through training, agricultural storage, etc.
It is well known that farmers’ production costs are increasing with alternative decreases in yield, due to a lack of understanding about climate adaptive technologies, a shortage of storage facilities, and a low market price.
Moreover, climatic extreme events like erratic rainfall, intense and frequent flood, riverbank erosion, and other related factors cause significant post-harvest crop loss in Bangladesh.
In this regard, adaptation clinics will increase the resilience of climate-vulnerable people ranging from poor marginalized farmer groups to local consumer groups, assemble market groups, and trader groups.
Most importantly, the adaptation clinic will not only contribute to reducing the post-harvest losses, ensuring sustainable food availability, leading to a reduction of pressure on natural resources by eliminating hunger and improving farmers’ livelihood; but also provide the subscribed farmers with a year-round climate adaptive livelihood scheme focused on climate-smart agriculture.
Actually, it is the science-based and context-specific farming services that can help farmers from climate catastrophe and make their practices more resilient and sustainable for the long term.
The future vision of this holistic approach of Brac is to involve the government and private sector gradually and also collaborate with other academic and research institutions to expand the adaptation clinic service.
Still, it is in the pilot stage to support relevant, context-specific, and realistic agriculture solutions at the community level using a climate change adaptation lens.
As a whole, it can be said that this adaptation clinic service will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2, 12, and 13. In addition, this initiative will help the government attempt to tackle climate meltdown alongside promoting green development.
Dilshad Jahan is Specialist, Advocacy and Communications, Climate Change Program at BRAC. Email: [email protected]