Bangladesh is the world’s eighth-most populous country, home to over 168 million people living on just 147,570 km² of land. Over the last 20 years, Bangladesh has accelerated its economic growth and the percentage of the population living in poverty has declined significantly. Despite these successes, more than 50 million people still live in poverty and a large proportion of the population is underemployed. The industrial sector of the country is not large enough to support the large population through export earnings and employment generation. Instead, Bangladesh has a primarily agrarian economy, with agriculture contributing about 16% of the country’s GDP and employing more than 60% of the population.
Bangladesh has a tropical to subtropical climate characterized by wide seasonal variations in rainfall, temperature and humidity, resulting in three distinct seasons. The landscape varies immensely, the country is a patchwork of 30 different agro-ecological zones, each differing in terms of soil type, fertility conditions, cropping patterns and hydrology. Of the total land area, 61.2% is arable and under cultivation. About 56% of agricultural land is irrigated with 20% of the irrigation coming from surface water supply and 80% from groundwater extraction. Most farms are subsistence small-scale farms which non-mechanised or commercialised.
Cropping seasons in Bangladesh are classified into two main seasons: (i) Kharif (July-October) and (ii) Rabi (October-March) based on the monsoon. Major crops grown in the country are rice (73.94%), wheat (4.45%), jute (3.91%), oilseeds (3.08%), lentils (1.54%) and sugarcane (1.12%). The performance of these crops relies heavily on annual rainfall and its distributions. In turn, the performance of this sector can have major impacts on employment generation, poverty alleviation and food security of the majority of the people.
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and variability. Crop production is adversely influenced by erratic rainfall, temperature extremes, increased salinity, droughts, floods, river erosion, and tropical storms. Incidences of floods, droughts, high temperatures and floods are predicted to become more frequent and intense in future. These changes could lead to falls in crop yields of up to 30%, creating a very high risk of hunger.
Bangladesh is developing many plans and strategies for adaptation to climate change and variability in order to minimise the adverse impacts that climate change will have on agriculture and food security. The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) is the de facto policy document that provides strategic direction for work on climate change related issues. Many elements of climate change adaptation in the country are also being addressed through specific sectoral policies.
CCAFS’s major activities in Bangladesh also include prioritization of adaptation/mitigation strategies in agriculture sector, promotion of CSA through the Climate-Smart Village (CSV) approach, crop yield forecasting for weather risk management, and gender and social inclusion in climate-smart agriculture. CCAFS and CGIAR centers together are engaging with national and sub-national stakeholders including policymakers, NGOs and civil society groups, research organizations, farmers groups and private sector for promotion of climate-smart agriculture in Bangladesh. Priority areas include coastal agriculture systems in the country.