PHOTOS: Bangladesh farmers revive unique floating farms

Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Farmers in southwestern Bangladesh have revived a 200-year-old agricultural practice to battle the challenges emanating from floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels. With prolonged waterlogging becoming an increasing threat, farmers have turned to using rafts as secure platforms to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. The unique method, now practiced by about 6,000 farmers, may prove crucial in sustaining agriculture during a period of erratic monsoons and worsening climate crisis. 

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The rafts, where farmers grow radish, cucumber, papaya, bitter gourd and tomato are woven from stems of invasive hyacinths. Amid increasingly extreme monsoon spells, they are proving to be a lifeline for most agricultural families, especially due to the scarcity of dry land.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS ) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

The rafts, where farmers grow radish, cucumber, papaya, bitter gourd and tomato are woven from stems of invasive hyacinths. Amid increasingly extreme monsoon spells, they are proving to be a lifeline for most agricultural families, especially due to the scarcity of dry land.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS )

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Earlier, the flooding season lasted for about five months every year. But now, the swampy area remains underwater for about eight to 10 months, and more land is now being flooded. "These days, the land is underwater for a longer time. This ancient technique has helped us to earn a living," a 42-year-old Mohammad Mostafa told Reuters.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS ) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Earlier, the flooding season lasted for about five months every year. But now, the swampy area remains underwater for about eight to 10 months, and more land is now being flooded. "These days, the land is underwater for a longer time. This ancient technique has helped us to earn a living," a 42-year-old Mohammad Mostafa told Reuters.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS )

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Like Mostafa, nearly 6,000 farmers in the Pirojpur area now follow this approach. An agriculture official in the area, Digbijoy Hazra, said the number had risen from 4,500 five years ago. "My father and forefathers all used to do this. But the work is not that easy….I tried my luck at floating farming five years ago and that made a great difference to my life," Mostafa told Reuters(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS ) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Like Mostafa, nearly 6,000 farmers in the Pirojpur area now follow this approach. An agriculture official in the area, Digbijoy Hazra, said the number had risen from 4,500 five years ago. "My father and forefathers all used to do this. But the work is not that easy….I tried my luck at floating farming five years ago and that made a great difference to my life," Mostafa told Reuters(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS )

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Floating farms now cover about 157 hectares (388 acres) in Pirojpur district, with 120 hectares in Nazirpur that expanded from 80 hectares five years ago. As per Hazra, "It requires less space than conventional farming and does not need pesticides…When we're fighting the impact of global warming, floating farming could be the future."(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Floating farms now cover about 157 hectares (388 acres) in Pirojpur district, with 120 hectares in Nazirpur that expanded from 80 hectares five years ago. As per Hazra, "It requires less space than conventional farming and does not need pesticides…When we're fighting the impact of global warming, floating farming could be the future."(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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Low-lying Bangladesh has witnessed a brutal impat of climate change in the last two decades. It is considered to be among the most climate-vulnerable countries, and has witnessed rising water levels due to storms, floods, and erosion.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Low-lying Bangladesh has witnessed a brutal impat of climate change in the last two decades. It is considered to be among the most climate-vulnerable countries, and has witnessed rising water levels due to storms, floods, and erosion.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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The impact of climate change has been compounded by tectonic shifts, which have caused the land beneath to sink, along with upstream dams holding back silt that is meant to replenish eroding delta. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, between 2000 and 2019, Bangladesh was ranked seventh in a list of nations hit hardest by climate change. (Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

The impact of climate change has been compounded by tectonic shifts, which have caused the land beneath to sink, along with upstream dams holding back silt that is meant to replenish eroding delta. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, between 2000 and 2019, Bangladesh was ranked seventh in a list of nations hit hardest by climate change. (Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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The frequency of cyclones across the Bay of Bengal, along with increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, have increased troubles for Bangladesh's farmers. According to a 2019 International Monetary Fund report, Bangladesh could lose 17% of its land surface and 30% of its food production by 2050 due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion. (Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

The frequency of cyclones across the Bay of Bengal, along with increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, have increased troubles for Bangladesh's farmers. According to a 2019 International Monetary Fund report, Bangladesh could lose 17% of its land surface and 30% of its food production by 2050 due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion. (Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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The floating farms, however, have resulted in lower profit margins. This year, Mostafa spent about 4,500 taka for a boatload of water hyacinths, much more than the 1,000 paid last year. The rafts, which are about 6m long, also need to be replaced with new ones every three to four months.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

The floating farms, however, have resulted in lower profit margins. This year, Mostafa spent about 4,500 taka for a boatload of water hyacinths, much more than the 1,000 paid last year. The rafts, which are about 6m long, also need to be replaced with new ones every three to four months.(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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Women in the area suffer from additional woes. Murshida Begum, 35, told Reuters that she works for over eight hours every day to make balls of seedlings that are planted on the rafts. However, the hyacinths often lead to itching and sores across her hands. 30-year-old Kajol Begam said, "The work is so hard and painful. I can't sleep at night due to waist pain. But what else will I do when water is everywhere most of the time?"(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS) View Photos in a new improved layout
Published on Nov 28, 2022 07:07 PM IST

Women in the area suffer from additional woes. Murshida Begum, 35, told Reuters that she works for over eight hours every day to make balls of seedlings that are planted on the rafts. However, the hyacinths often lead to itching and sores across her hands. 30-year-old Kajol Begam said, "The work is so hard and painful. I can't sleep at night due to waist pain. But what else will I do when water is everywhere most of the time?"(Mohammad Ponir Hossain / REUTERS)

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