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Climate resilient agriculture and producer-consumer justice through ICT

This testimonial by M. Abdur Rahaman Rana is part of YPARD's showcase on young people and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bangladesh is a small country which is vulnerable to different types of environmental disasters. 

The major disasters and environmental vulnerabilities are floods, water stagnancy, droughts, cyclone, tidal surge, river erosion, salinity, extreme temperature and low light intensity etc. 

The vulnerabilities due to climate change are likely to aggravate more in the future. These catastrophic events significantly hinder the agricultural production systems, economic and social development of the country firstly through having an adverse effect on crops, livestock, fisheries and agroforestry, natural resources, establishments and infrastructures and secondly pulling back the on-going developments, business and trade at local, regional and even global levels. 

Coastal areas are mostly inhabited by the poor and disadvantaged groups. Usually, the coastal belt is flooded from May to December. Salinity also restricts agriculture in the coastal areas. In coastal zone crops are lost due to water stagnancy or tidal surge during July-December in wet seasons. On the other hand, during winter salinity is the major threat to agriculture. During the summer season, due to lack of irrigation availability farmers cannot produce crops in their lands. 

Being a climate change adaptation and mitigation professional, I became interested to work with smallholders in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts to ensure climate resilient agriculture and ICT based business promotional interventions from producer to consumer level. 

It is an action research idea which is being implemented in shoal areas of Meghna (Noakhali). The aim of the study is to ensure food security of ultra-poor climate vulnerable farmers promoting climate-smart agricultural system and producer-consumer justice using ICT in the coastal belt. Under this intervention, poor farmers gain fruitful access to ICTs through shared facilities in their own languages. 

The action research is being implemented in the saline-prone areas establishing climate-smart agricultural information & investment Centre; developing and regular updating customized software; disseminating seasonal agro-meteorological, soil and hydrological information relating to crop suitability using cellular phone and mobile internet; educating farmers on ICT and climate resilient agricultural system, soil health, and also about flood & saline tolerant varieties, establishing a business hub namely “Deshojo Bazar”’ in urban areas. I am also trying to develop a customized software on producer-consumer interaction, up to date production system, product pricing, and consumer-friendly apps.  

We have developed a framework of a customized model namely Soil, Water, Agriculture and Climate (SWAC) model to promote climate resilient technology among farmers in relation to sudden and slow onset disaster. The customized software provides information or data relevant to soil health restoration or conservation, soil quality management, suitable crops or plants, local agro-meteorological, soil and hydrological information and climate resilient cropping pattern, climate resilient crop varieties, location-specific best management practices to increase crop yield, irrigation scheduling, quality seed source, and livelihood. 

It is expected that the software will be capable to provide fertilizer recommendation based on existing soil nutrient data or soil test value for crops of the area. It will also capable to estimate location-specific carrying capacity relevant to food production, agricultural inputs needs, food requirement and surplus/deficient of food to ensure food security.  

It is a tangible outcome of the study. Even now, the whole system is in an experimental phase. After a successful experiment, I will develop a user-friendly software namely System on Agro-technology, Climate, Agriculture and Water (SACAW) under this study. It would be a dynamic model which will contain crop land specific climatic information, land elevation, land use, hydro-meteorological information, agro-meteorological information, soil health, soil fertility, pest, and diseases etc. 

The software will analyze all of the inbuilt information provided generated by field researchers from farmers land regularly. It would be updated regularly based on the seasonal crop-related information. I am also trying to develop an apps namely “SPC” by which interactive coordination between consumer and producer would be established in terms of pricing, product quality, producer-consumer justice and so on.