An ICT-Based Community Plant Clinic for Climate Resilient Agricultural Practices in Bangladesh
The southwest coastal region of Bangladesh is particularly climate vulnerable; impacted both by immediate climate events and by longerterm 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.
Local NGO, Shushilan, responded to these climate challenges by developing two ICT based plant clinics in the subdistrict of Kaligonj (part of Satkhira district). Socalled "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 on 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, soiltesting 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.