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The importance of farmers' perceptions of salinity and adaptation strategies for ensuring food security: Evidence from the coastal rice growing areas of Bangladesh
journal contributionposted on 24.06.2020, 00:00 by MA Islam, N Warwick, Richard Koech, MN Amin, LA Lobry de Bruyn
Coastal salinity causes substantial adverse impacts on agricultural productivity and food security. Farmers' choice of salinity adaptation strategies might depend on how they perceive the problem. This research examined rice farmers' perceptions of salinity, adaptation strategies, and its implications for policy initiatives to sustain rice production in the affected coastal areas of Bangladesh. Boro rice growers (n = 109) randomly selected from two coastal sub-districts were interviewed using a semi-structured survey. Awareness of salinity and its increase over the past 20 yearswaswidespread among rice farmers. A high proportion of farmers (90%) perceived the reproductive (e.g. booting, heading, and flowering) stages of the rice plant as the most sensitive to salinity problems. Salinity (ECe) was measured in the farmers' fields and were categorized according to farmers' perceptions and scientific interpretation (e.g. high or low). Farmers perceived a field affected by high salinity at a lower EC reading than the scientific interpretation of the salinity level. Most of the farmers (67%) were undertaking early transplanting and applying irrigation in order to adapt to salinity problems which occur later in rice crop growth during Boro season. Thus, farmers' actions demonstrated that their perceptions of salinity and adaptation responses were pre-emptive of when salinity was most likely to have an impact on the rice crop. Farmers' perceptions of salinization and measures to manage salinity need to be considered in research prioritization and policy formulation by the government. This action could potentially secure rice production and thus contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-1, 2 and 3).