Context of salinization and adaptation preferences in the coastal areas
of Bangladesh: Bringing together farmers’ salinity perspectives into
policy to achieve SDGs
The increasing salinization of coastal areas of Bangladesh reduces
options for rice intensification but offers a suitable environment for
shrimp and salt farming. Under these contested land use settings,
adaptation decisions to address salinity require an understanding of the
salinity perspectives of all farmer types. Primary data was collected
from randomly selected rice, shrimp and salt farmers in two coastal
sub-districts through semi-structured interviews at household level.
Also, key informant interviews (KIIs) were conducted with personnel from
research and extension organisations from different levels (e.g.
national and local). Salinity perceptions among the various types of
farmer differed. While the majority of rice farmers (87%) perceived
increased salinity, just over half of the salt and shrimp farmers
perceived that salinity has decreased over the past 20 years. Most rice
farmers (62%) perceived anthropogenic factors as the main cause of
increased salinity, while the majority of shrimp and salt farmers
focused more on natural factors. Rice farmers perceived under saline
conditions a yield loss (42%), followed by less income (30%). In
contrast, shrimp farmers (70%) and salt farmers (55%) perceived
production gains when high salinity prevailed. Rice farmers’ adaptation
preferences to cope with salinity is development of salinity-tolerant
rice varieties that have greater tolerance at the reproductive stages,
while shrimp and salt farmers’ preferences are engineering-based
solutions. Thus, research and extension services on integrated coastal
resources management need to consider all livelihood perspectives, as
this approach could accelerate the pace of achieving the SDGs (i.e..
SDG-1, SDG-2 and SGD-3).