DHAKA, April 2 – The floating gardens in Bangladesh are a huge help in reducing food insecurity linked to frequent flooding. According to a recent study, this form of agriculture could also be a source of income for rural households in areas of the country prone to flooding.
Far from being a new concept in Bangladesh, floating gardens have been around for hundreds of years in this Southeast Asian country. They are even recognized as an “agricultural heritage system of global significance” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
These floating gardens are made up of native plants which float in rivers (traditionally water hyacinths), and which rise and fall with the waters. They have the major advantage of being able to continue growing food during the rainy season (usually July to September), when flooding is frequent.
The study, published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food and Environment and carried out by international research teams, aimed to determine the extent to which Bangladesh’s floating gardens could be a sustainable agricultural practice as climate change continues to cause flooding. and droughts. The researchers also analyzed the ways in which these gardens can improve the food security of individual households.
Bangladesh is a country particularly prone to flooding. In fact, these natural disasters have multiplied due to the effects of climate change, as seen in the summer of 2020, when a third of the country found itself underwater.
“But as climate change has affected the volume of water in these rivers creating extreme floods and floods, as well as extreme depressions and droughts – floating gardens have become a way for rural farmers to continue producing food. food in unpredictable weather, ”observe the study authors. .
For the study, the researchers interviewed farming families in Bangladesh (nine in total) who use floating gardens. Through their research, the study authors observed that the benefits associated with growing food crops in floating gardens outweighed the costs associated with this type of agriculture (hybrid seeds to be purchased each year, pesticides and fertilizers). , etc.).
“A farmer told the research team that he made up to four times more money in gardens than in traditional rice fields,” the researchers explain.
However, the authors of the study note several avenues for improving the practice, particularly in terms of farmers’ income, as they can often take out loans at high interest rates to cover the costs of investment in the construction of their floating gardens. “Low-interest loans from responsible government or non-governmental organizations could ease this burden,” the researchers say. ETX Studio