ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark

Organic World

Bangladesh O2

Hussein, Mian Akbar

Moudubi Health & Agriculture Development Project of Service CivilInternational, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country with a population of 112 million is an area of 144,000 sq. km in the confluence of the river systems Padma -Meghna - Brahmaputra. The discharges coming from the upstream (Himalayas) and internal run off drain into the Bay of Bengal. 85%if the population living in rural areas and depending on agriculture.
The country's land resources record with the agroclimatic inventory gave rise to 30 Agro-Ecological Zones [AEZ] and 88 sub-zones. Classified agro-ecological resource base is increasingly playing important role in agricultural planning, technology innovation and technology transfer as well as bio-physical resources utilization.
Bangladesh is rich in germ plasm resources of some of the world's most important crops. The climate are sub-tropical and there are three seasons for cultivation in a year. A complete spectrum of agro-ecosystem in Bangladesh from low lands to high lands exists,most of these are floodplain and valley land. Cropping pattern are primarily determined by the seasonal flooding regime.
The so-called »Green Revolution« package introduced in Bangladesh agriculture system in mid 1960s. It promised increase production of cereal crops, particularly rice by the introduction of HYV seeds, application of chemical fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation and mechanized tilling. However, the production of HYV rice is declining every year, although the use of fertilizer and pesticideshas increased 400% per acre, while its cost increased 600% during the last two decades. As a result, farmers have become seriously indebted and many marginal farmers have lost their land.
The HYV rice production has adversely affected nutritionally important food items such as fish, legumes oil seeds etc. Fishproduction in open water bodies has declined 70% over the last two decades due to the effect of fertilizer and pesticides runoff fromthe field.
The promotion of HYV rice has replaced the local varieties of rice and other cereal crops, legumes, oil seeds etc.
The net cropping areas are 7,648,582 ha.] and current fellow land 665,182 ha.] Nearly 0.07% oft he cropped areas has been brought under organic methods of cultivation in Bangladesh.
Generally more than one-third of the land are single-crop land, and 13.2% are cultivated triple-crop land, and double cropping areas increased to 52.9% in 1992 compared to that of 1982. This has caused due to introduction of HYV rice monoculture.
There are 20,000 pesticide dealers in Bangladesh marketing 100 active ingredients of 300 pesticide products for agriculture and non-agricultural use. Sales of pesticides has doubled between 1985 to 1990 [6948 m.ton in 1990-91]. Out of the total pesticides used, over 80% was used in rice fields; followed by tea, sugar and vegetables.
The rapid use of pesticides and insecticides are causing detrimental effect on health of farm workers, consumers and women. More importantly pesticides are contaminating ground and surface water which is causing depletion of inland fishing resources and ecosystem.
Insecticide use in rice field is mainly reactive rather than prophylactic. In vegetable, insecticides are used at a very high degree both in volume and times. A survey revealed that application of insecticides range from 17 to 150 times for one crop cycle. In cauliflower and cabbage, it is commonly used 3 to 4 times.Phosphamidon is main insecticide used in vegetables which is very hazardous.
Heptachlore is recommended for use in sugarcane. It is prohibited to other crops. But due to lack of knowledge, the farmers are using heptachlore in potato fields, wheat, vegetables, etc.
The residual effect of pesticides and insecticides in fish is high as reported by the Department of Fisheries of the Bangladesh Government. According to them the total production of captured fisheries has declined from 0.47 million tons in 1983-84 to 0.4 million tons in 1990-91.
A survey on 100 labourers in tea garden, revealed that after spraying the pesticides the labourers were suffering from headache,intestinal pain and vomiting tendency. Insecticides ultimately enters the food cycle through fish, vegetables and other crops.Scientists say that the concentration of DDT in human body in Bangladesh is 12.5 ppm which is at least five times higher than it is in the United Kingdom.
Agro-hecto, Thiodan, Hildan, Hexadal are smuggled into Bangladesh from India. Scientists revealed that the toxicity of thiodan remainin soil for several years. Pesticides not only kills harmful insects, but also destroy beneficial insects, predators, bees and birds which degrades the biological diversity.
Organic agriculture is still in its experimental stage. However, its relevance and suitability has already been recognized by agriculturists and scientists world over, although it is yet to be widely practiced. Modern Agriculture practitioners hold reservation that it is a slow process and as a result are reluctant to shift to natural farming. But majority of them believe that organic agriculture indeed is pertinent and it is an environment - friendly agricultural method; it is sustainable and has enough potential to seriously challenge the chemical - intensive agriculture. There is tremendous enthusiasm over its introduction as an effectiv ealternative to the chemical agriculture as the latter has caused serious degradation and contamination of soil, water, air and theecosystem of the planet.
The organic agriculture practices derive its techniques, methods and approaches from the indigenous popular knowledge system as well as knowledge obtained from ecological science. The success it has already achieved shows a ray of hope for the future; regenerationof soil fertility and productivity, renewal of the environment low investment cost and farmers' self-reliance are the key features of organic agriculture. The bio-fertilizers/manures are produced from organic matters without the help of chemical substances. Thus the added bio-mass and composts to the soil not only develop new layers but also renew fertility. The pests are controlled through the use of neem and other natural herbal ingredients.
There are 138 NGOs Member of the Forum for Regenerative Agriculture Movement, 47 of them are engaged in practicing regenerative/organic agriculture, 87 are intending to practice sustainable agriculture and 3 of them are engaged in advocacy, lobbying and campaign for sustainable development in Bangladesh.
Current coverage under organic / regenerative agriculture is 1000ha. and there are local farmers engaged in practicing indigenous agriculture for deep water rice cultivation in 4000 ha. and efforts are being made to undertake field-based action research in 47 strategic locations where organic/regenerative agriculture methods are being used for practicing and planning to build up awareness among the farmers, agriculturists and general public re.the benefit of organic agriculture; to develop a marketing network for organic products; and public advocacy and lobbying for awareness among policy makers.

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Hossain, F.M.A (1995) : Consequences and Impact of High External Input-based Agriculture and NGOs efforts, BARRA, Dhaka,

Ahmed, Q.F (1992): Study of Socio-economic and Environmentaleffect of Chemical Agriculture.