Author and Institution:
A.H. Rezaul Haq, Shushilan
Mustafa Bakuluzzaman, Shushilan
Mahanambrota Dash, Shushilan
Rabi Uzzaman, Shushilan
Rajsree Nandi, Shushilan
The southwest coastal region of Bangladesh is particularly climate-vulnerable; impacted both by immediate climate events and by longer-term climate change. Crops and horticultural production are being hampered due to changing seasons, erratic rainfall, rising temperature, unpredictable fog, and coastal flooding and increasing salinity due to rising sea levels and cyclone/storm surges in the area. Moreover, new pests and insects are destroying crops. As a result, local farmers are demanding information about pest control, new saline-tolerant varieties, improved agricultural management practices, early warning of weather events, etc.
The local NGO Shushilan has responded to these climate challenges by developing two ICT-based plant clinics in the sub-district of Kaligonj (part of Satkhira district). So-called “plant doctors” – that is, local agricultural extension workers employed by Shushilan – use ICTs in order to assist farmers; providing the farmers with the information they require. ICTs can also be used by the plant doctors to share experiences between farmers, and to pass on early warnings of floods and cyclones that are generated by the Bangladesh Meteorology Department, mainly via mobile phone. In addition, Shushilan has set up an Agriculture Research Centre, soil-testing laboratory, demonstrator farms, and seed storage facilities in order to provide holistic support to the c.4,000 farmers who fall within the project’s purview.