Category Archives: Land Reclamation

Char land brought under crops cultivation in Gaibandha

Char land brought under crops cultivation in Gaibandha

GAIBANDHA, Nov 16 (BSS): A vast tracts of char land on the river bed of the Brahmaputra and the Teesta have been brought under different crops and vegetables cultivation during the Robi season.

According to sources, hundreds of river eroded people living on the river basin and the chars started different crops and vegetables cultivation on the both sides of the rivers this year.

Later, the growers brought vast tracts of land along riverbed under the crops and vegetables farming with the hopes of getting desired production and economical profit from it.

Earlier, the growers were motivated by the field level agriculture officers to cultivate different varieties on the unused char lands to help them change their socio-economic condition and to achieve country’s food security, said Saddam Hossain, a social worker.

As the land on the riverbed is very fertile, there is no necessity of using chemical fertilisers to grow the varieties successfully. That’s why; the growers used nominal organic fertilisers and invested a little amount of money for it, said Mokbul Hossain, sub assistant agriculture officer of Kamarjani Union of Sadar Upazila.

Now, the cultivated crops like Ganzia paddy, maize, mustard and groundnut and the vegetables on the riverbeds have grown well and they have taken greenish look.

The harvest of some of the vegetables like brinjal, bean, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, chili, balsam apple, parble and gourd has already started and the growers are earning

money by selling those in the local markets at fair prices, said M. Delwar Hossain, a dweller of char Khatiamari under Kamarjani Union of Sadar Upazila.

Saiduzzaman, chairman of Mollarchar under Sadar Upazila, said if all the vast tracts of land were brought under crops cultivation by using modern agro technologies, the food production of the country would increase significantly side by side with alleviating poverty of the char and river basin people.

Talking to the BSS deputy director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) AH Bazlur Rashid said the chars and river basin people were being motivated so that they could bring the unused vast tracts of riverbeds under different crops and vegetables farming to meet its demand and to make the growers economically benefited and selfreliant.

Bangladesh dams to reclaim 600 square kms of land

Bangladesh dams to reclaim 600 square kms of land
(AFP) – Sep 5, 2010

DHAKA — Bangladesh plans to build a series of dams to reclaim 600 square kilometres (230 square miles) of land from the sea over the next five years, officials said Sunday.

The government has approved the ambitious project under which dams would be built in the Meghna estuary to connect islands and help deposit hundreds of millions of tonnes of sediment, project chief Hafizur Rahman said.

“The project would cost only 1.20 billion taka (18 million dollars). The dams will expedite sedimentations and manage the tidal system. They won’t allow loss of any sediments to the sea,” he told AFP.

“The whole process will reclaim at least 600 square kilometres of new land from the sea in just five years.”

The mighty Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers join in Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of the Bengal.

Studies have found that the two rivers carry more than one billion tonnes of sediment a year.

Rahman said the dams would be designed so that small islands would become linked with the mainland as shallow areas in the estuary fill up with sediment.

A study by the Dutch-funded Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) has found that the damming process would not affect other parts of the coastline or aggravate erosion of the country’s largest island, Bhola.

“We have done some water models of the project and found some 600 square kilometres of new land could be reclaimed without any side-effects,” IWM principal researcher Jahirul Haq Khan told AFP.

The study has been verified by Dutch experts, he added.

Bangladesh reclaimed 1,000 square kilometres of new land in the Meghna estuary by building two dams in 1957 and 1964. Despite the success, the reclamation process was halted due to lack of donor financing.

The impoverished country has been one of the worse victims of climate change, with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting that 17 percent of its land would go under a rising sea by 2050.

Bangladesh needs to be serious about land reclamation from the sea


Bangladesh needs to be serious about land reclamation from the sea
Mozzamel Haque

PDF File about a proposed cross Dam Project

REGULARLY received satellite imageries and other tangible supporting evidences suggest that Bangladesh is about to receive the gift of a huge land mass from its adjoining sea. The size of this land mass, eventually, could be as big as the present size of Bangladesh or even bigger. But it will depend considerably on what the Bangladeshis themselves do — like the people of Holland did — to reclaim land from the sea to be joined to the mainland.

Unfortunately, non inclusion of such a project in the country’s annual development programmes (ADPs) means that the government is paying no attention to the issue. No allocations have been made over the years to build dams or other structures needed to accelerate the process of accretion of coastal land. This attitude, undoubtedly, reflects a serious neglect of the vital national interest. Successive governments should have done all in their powers to accelerate the land reclamation process which holds out so much promise for this land hungry country. They should have been proactive in mobilising foreign assistance to realise the objective.

Already, a substantial land mass has surfaced off the shore of Bangladesh on some of these completely surfaced land masses human habitations are growing while others emerge during the ebbing of the tide and go under water during the tides. The latter types of land formations could be elevated to be permanently joined to the mainland by engineering to step up the land accretion process. Indeed, much of present day Bangladesh including the districts of Faridpur, Barisal, Noakhali, Patuakhali, etc., were formed, over time in this manner.

Land masses have already emerged from the sea and more would rise in the future. But the natural process being slow and it can be accelerated by engineering, which is neither prohibitive in cost terms nor complex, in technology terms. For Bangladesh, it would require establishment of structures like cross dams to speed up the silt deposition pace in accreted or nearly accreted areas.

Bangladesh is likely to get a positive response for funds as well as technical support from the international community if it can show that it is really keen to reclaim land from the sea for the overpopulated country. But we have to put the endeavour under a systematic policy framework. Holland is one country with unmatched expertise and experience in obtaining land out of the sea. It was in a situation, much worse than Bangladesh. Holland was below the sea level for which high tides and storms in the sea used to completely inundate it. The Dutch engineering solved these problems. They have also permanently reclaimed vast stretches of land from the sea to keep them dry within secure barriers or sea walls.

We may not have to embark on projects on the same scale as the Netherlands did because of Bangladesh’s relatively better elevation. But, Bangladesh can definitely use its huge reservoir of manpower to build simpler projects to get similar or even better results. To be able achieve the goal engage in a time-bound and result oriented framework Bangladesh should engage Holland for technical and other support. It can also appeal to the international community for the funds needed for the project.

The US and other developed countries, the main contributors to global warming which could affect Bangladesh, should help it out in projects designed to secure its coasts and population. Even if external aid is not forthcoming, the government can proceed with dams and other structures designed to reclaim land from the sea on a sustainable basis. Bangladesh can take up such projects for execution by mobilising its own resources and expertise. Reclaimed land mass could be used for human resettlement to ease population pressure on the main land as well as for productive purposes. Coastal areas — specially the offshore islands — have great potential for tourism. Tourist resorts in the coastal islands — like in the Maldives — can attract tourists, foreign as well as local. The coastal areas are exclusively suitable for shrimp cultivation for export.

Country gets new land

Country gets new land
Study reveals 1,790sq km landmass emerges out of Bay for incredible rate of sedimentation

Pinaki Roy

Even as many worry Bangladesh will shrink in size because of global warming, a new study shows that the country has actually grown in landmass equal to five times the size of Dhaka city.

The new land has emerged in the Meghna estuary, where sediments flow down from the Himlayas and collect into charlands. The study found that the 8.5-magnitude 1950 Assam Earthquake increased the sediment flow and has added a net increase of 1,790 square kilometers to the country’s land mass.

“More charlands have emerged than we have lost due to river erosion over the years,” said Dr. Maminul Haq Sarker, a geo-morphologist who conducted the study at the Center for Environment and Geographical Information System (CEGIS).

The new land, which emerged mostly in Noakhali, was discovered when Sarker and his research team analyzed satellite pictures and other data from 1943 to 2008 tracking sediments coming from the Himalayas and flowing down the Padma (Ganges in India) and Jamuna (Brahmaputra) rivers. The rivers deliver about one billion tons of silt a year from India, Nepal, China , and Bhutan to the Megnha estuary within the Bay of Bengal.

The study found that the 1950 earthquake accelerated the sediment flow by causing huge landslides in the Himalayas, dumping an estimate 45 billion cubic meters of earth into the rivers. Within a few years after the 1950 earthquake, silt and clay began to rapidly accumulate in the estuary. In all, the sediment added 2970 square kilometers in new charland while 1180 square kilometers were erodeda net gain of nearly 1800 square kilometers.

Beside Noakhali, new land has accumulated at the Patuakhali, Shariatpur, Barisal and Chittagong districts.

The findings, formally released yesterday, shines a ray of hope on otherwise dire predictions by groups such as the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that Bangladesh will lose about 17 percent of its land area because melting polar ice daps will increase sea levels.

But Sarker cautioned more research is needed.

“This is an indicative study,” he said. “We need to continue our research to say something concrete.”

“Now we might think to battle the climate change challenge in different way if we can use the sediment in planned way,” he said. “We can recover certain amount of our land mass from the aggression of rising sea level.”

Citing a recent study of two American scientists, Saker said that the research suggests that one-third of this sediment is deposited on the floodplain and tidal plain of Bangladesh, thus continuously raising the land. One-third of the sediment is deposited on the estuary thus building new islands. The final third is lost in the deep ocean, he said.

The research also found the main reason behind the erosion of 230 square kilometers at Bhola Island, which many regard as an victim of rising sea levels due to climate change, was instead caused by the shifting flow of the Meghna channel. The shift also eroded a total of 195 square kilometers of land from Sandwip and Hatiya islands.

Plans underway to reclaim land in coastal areas: PM

Plans underway to reclaim land in coastal areas: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said plans are underway to reclaim land along the coastal belt.

Besides, we would carry out capital dredging in the major rivers so that we can utilise every inch of land.

“We are planning to reclaim land at the coast and carry out capital dredging to overcome the scarcity of land,” she said at the Jatiya Sangsad while responding to a question from Mainuddin Khan Badal, a JSD lawmaker from Chittagong.

Sheikh Hasina, during the Prime Minister’s question-answer hour, said the scarcity of land has an impact on food production and the government has been planning to promote new variety of rice tolerant to salinity in the coastal areas.

She said the Awami League government had spent Tk 12 crore to develop new variety of saline tolerant rice, but the achievement was jeopardised due to negligence by the past government.

“Steps would be taken again to develop such varieties of rice through research to use every inch of land for food production,” the Prime Minister said adding khas lands would also be distributed among the landless people to promote food production.

She said the pragmatic policies of the Awami League government between 1996 and 2001 had led the country towards self sufficiency, which marked a sharp rise of cereal production 2.7 crore metric tonnes from only 1.9 crore MT.

The distribution of khas lands among 1.5 lakh landless has contributed positively to the food production, she said adding the landless this time would not only be given lands, but also be inspired with fertiliser and seeds in subsidised rates along with soft loans.

Bangladesh growing in size by 12.5 sq miles a year

Bangladesh growing in size by 12.5 sq miles a year

Staff Reporter

Bangladesh is increasing in size contradicting forecasts that the parts of the country will disappear under water due to global warming.

Scientists at the Centre for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) say that the country’s landmass has increased by 20 square kilometres (12.5 square miles) annually.

They said that they have studied 32 years of satellite images and found that the country’s landmass has increased by 20 square kilometres annually during that time.

Data shows that the sediment travelling down the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers from the Himalayan watershed are creating new land as they wash into the Bay of Bengal, they said.

Mominul Haque Sarker, Head of the department at the CEGIS that looks at boundary changes, said a billion tonnes of sediment that the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and 200 other rivers bring from the Himalayas each year before crossing Bangladesh had caused the landmass to increase.

About a third of this sediment, he said, makes it into the Bay of Bengal, where new territory is forming, he said.

Sarkar said that in the next 50 years this could add up to the country gaining 1,000 square kilometres.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that Bangladesh, criss-crossed by a network of more than 200 rivers, will lose 17 per cent of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel says 20 million Bangladeshis will become environmental refugees by 2050 and the country will lose some 30 percent of its food production.

Director of the US-based NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, professor James Hansen, paints an even grimmer picture, predicting the entire country could be under water by the end of the century.

But Sarker said that while rising sea levels and river erosion were both claiming land in Bangladesh, many climate experts had failed to take into account new land being formed from the river sediment.

“Satellite images dating back to 1973 and old maps earlier than that show some 1,000 square kilometres of land have risen from the sea,” Sarker said.

“A rise in sea level will offset this and slow the gains made by new territories, but there will still be an increase in land. We think that in the next 50 years we may get another 1,000 square kilometres of land.”

Mahfuzur Rahman, Head of Bangladesh Water Development Board’s Coastal Study and Survey Department, has also been analysing the buildup of land on the coast.

He said findings by the IPCC and other climate change scientists were too general and did not explore the benefits of land accretion.

“For almost a decade we have heard experts saying Bangladesh will be under water, but so far our data has shown nothing like this,” he said.

“Natural accretion has been going on here for hundreds of years along the estuaries and all our models show it will go on for decades or centuries into the future.”

Dams built along the country’s southern coast in the 1950s and 1960s had helped reclaim a lot of land and he believed with the use of new technology, Bangladesh could speed up the accretion process, he said.

“The land Bangladesh has lost so far has been caused by river erosion, which has always happened in this country. Natural accretion due to sedimentation and dams have more than compensated this loss,” Rahman said.

Bangladesh has built a series of dykes to prevent flooding.

“If we build more dams using superior technology, we may be able to reclaim 4,000 to 5,000 square kilometres in the near future,” Rahman said.

Achieving food security and becoming food surplus

Achieving food security and becoming food surplus
Shahidur Rahman Khan

DEDICATED planning and timely supports can make Bangladesh food-surplus and ensure food security for its population. This year’s net food grain shortage is only 0.1 mil. ton against a total demand of 26 mil. tons (despite 1.8 mil. tons standing crops damage by back-to-back floods and Sidr). Bangladesh produced 24.3 mil. tons of food grains in 1999-2000 matching the requirements of the then 130 mil. population and since then it is on the fringe of self-sufficiency. Presently, Bangladesh has 8.29 mil. ha. of cultivable land and about 145.6 mil. population. Each year, the country is loosing about 1 percent of its cultivable lands to non-agricultural uses while its popualtion is increasing by about 2 mil. A yearly incremental production of 0.35 mil. ton in addition to 2 mil. tons average deficit is required for food grains self-sufficiency.

World’s exportable rice has already been advanced booked upto 2010 by now. World rice price benchmark the Thai variety has risen to 3 times its price of January 2007. Recent world-wide surges in food price are themselves part of a wider range of commodity price hike linking prices of petroleum products, energy, industrial raw materials, food grains and feed stuff. UN World Food Report says that present world food prices are 10 years’ high having no chance of appreciable reduction in, at least, within next 10 years. FAO, WFP, IRRI, WB, IFAD, ADB etc. are all unanimous about continuation of high prices in the coming years. The flip side of high price is that surplus producers will get lucrative payments.

‘Net Food Importing Low Income Countries (NFILICs) have to go for long term strategy aimed at maximising food production to protect themselves from unceraitanity of unpredictable volatile external markets. An IFRI and John Hopkins University study of 2000 found that self-sufficiency in rice for Bangladesh is necessary not only to meet world market instability, but also for its comparative advantages in production. Bangladesh, the world’s 4th largest rice producer, has potentials and capabilities to attain sustainable food security and even become net rice exporter.

Food surplus in short-term
Bangladesh has to produce at least 31 mil. tons of food grains in its 7.88 mil. ha. of cultivable land (available at that time), for a projected population of 156 million to attain food-surplus in a short-term of 5 years. This is not an unachievable target, since addition of the lost 1.8 mil. tons would have pushed this year’s production to 44 mil. tons. Some of the attainments necessary for being food-surplus in short-term are:-

* Proper planning and effective coordinated implementation: ‘Grow More Food’ campaign, ‘Green Revolution’, ‘Medium Term Food Production Plan (MTFPP)’, ‘Accelerated Rice Production Programme (ARPP)’ and various national 5-year plans have consistently facilitated and enthused the farmers to grow more food crops. This resulted in higher growths of 1990s and early 2000s. Coordinated implementation of a farmer friendly long-term plan of government is a pre-requisite for self-sufficiency.

* Product price stabilisation and agricultural credit: Drastic fall in immediately post-harvest price is a common local happening. 85 percent of the farmers have to sell immediate on harvest (even sell in advance) for debt payment or other urgent necessity. Ensuring reasonable post-product price and keeping price-variation within rational limits will hold farmers’ interest in food crops. Formation of “Producers’ Food Bank” as is being experimented in India, is worth consideration.

* Financial constraint in procuring inputs is an impediment for majority of farmers: Availability of pre-product agricultural loan will boost production. Disbursement and recovery of loan, with government/private funding, can be made through “farmers’ cooperatives” in a similar system as PKSF’s loans to NGOs. Availability of pre-production credit and post-production reasonable price can do away with agricultural subsidies and their related maladies.

* Population control: Lax population growth is unwarranted in Bangladesh because of limited land and other resource bases. 1974 population growth rate of 2.48 has come down to 1.42 at present. Jobs for rural women, extensive motivation and easy availability of family planning materials at grassroots level will effectively assist in bringing down the growth rate.

* Food habit change: Nation-wide substituting one meal of rice with bread (made of 50 percent wheat/maize flour and 50 percent meshed patato) will reduce our total food grains requirement by at least 15 percent and optimise use of home grown potatoes. Food habit change motivation will need active support of media, civil society and government. Japanese per capita/year consumption of 155 160 kg of rice in mid-50s has already come down to 60 kg at present.

* Contract farming: Myanmar has offered to lease out to Bangladesh at least 50,000 acres of land for rice cultivation for a period of at least 10 years. 50,000 acres will add at least 60,000 tons of food grains to national inventory. China and Thailand are already engaged in contract farming there.

* Cultivation of fallow lands: Fallow lands in Bangladesh are either lying fallow in between two crops or remaining vacant for a year or more. About 75,000 ha. lying fallow after an Aman harvest in Rajshahi region is capable of producing additional 0.2 mil. tons of wheat with timely irrigation. 737,363 ha. was lying fallow for a year or more against a net cropped area of 7.97 mil. ha. in 2005. Even raising a single crop there would have increased total national production by at least 9 percent.

* Improvement in seed quality and production techniques; dissemination of information and stable supply of inputs: Wide dissemination of updated and validated information on quality seeds, production techniques, balanced fertiliser use, irrigation, harvesting, storage, marketing etc. to grassroots level augments agricultural growth. Average yeild of 1.5 tons/ha. of late 70s has come up to more than 3 tons/ha. A Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) experiment has more than doubled per ha. rice production, with timely provision of proper inputs alone. Raising the average rate of production to 4 tons/ha. to achieve food-surplus is not unattainable. According to Dr. Mahabub Hossain, only ensuring availabilty of good HYVseeds will increase local total food grains production by 10 percent.

* Efficient post-production crop management: Post-harvest loss in Bangladesh, amounting to 30 percent – 40 percent of production, is very high. 50% savings in post-harvest loss by efficient management of production and storage alone can make Bangladesh a food-surplus country.

Bangladesh can immediately become surplus in food grains by accomplishing any one of the factors like (i) cultivation of all fallow lands; or (ii) improvement in seed quality and production techniques, stable and timely supply of inputs; or (iii) efficient post-production crop management. Nation-wide food habit change will accrue sufficient food-surplus and make Bangladesh a net rice exporter.

Food security in medium-term
Though availability is a necessary pre-requisite, mere availability may not ensure food security for all, as access is also related to economic capability. Individual food security, cumulatively leading to national food security is the choicest option in this regard. To achieve food security in a medium-term of say 15 years, Bangladesh has to produce at least 35 mil. tons of food grains in the 7.05 mil. ha. of cultivable land available at that time, for a projected population of 176.6 million. The factors mentioned before can provide food-surplus in a short-term but for long-term food security, cultivable lands available at that time will simply be not enough. According to Prof Abdul Bayes, land is the only source of food security at household and at national level.

Much of the land-mass of Bangladesh is created by deposition of GangesBrhmaputraMeghna (GBM) sediments and the normal delta development is still going on. Retaining the yearly passing 2.4 billion tons GBM sediments would give rise to 200 sq. km of new lands. Natural depositions are random, slow and fragile. Partial sediment retainment is neither technically difficult nor economically prohibitive. Land reclamations in Bangladesh require less cost-intensive interventions. Artificial interventions can make land reclamation sustainable by accelerating deposition at desired places and holding them there. New jobs, food security and rice export, for Bangladesh in the coming decades, are all linked toghether to adequate cultivable lands and land reclamation can ensure that.

BWDB’s Land Raclamation Project, Meghna Estuary Studies etc. were preparatory works for long-term land reclamation activities. More than 1000 sq. km of lands have been reclaimed by hands-on activities like Meghna Cross Dams 1 and 2 , Muhuri Closure Dam etc. A ‘BWDB Task Force’ recommended erection of 19 priority cross dams to assist and accelerate Meghna Estuary’s natural land development activities. Present Meghna Estuary and its future vision are shown in Figures 1 and 2 respectively. ‘The Royal Netherlands Government’, ‘Global Environment Facilities (GEF)’, ‘Cool Earth’ partnership of Japan, UN’s ‘Least Developed Countries Fund’ and ‘Special Climate Change Fund’, JBIC, JICA, DFID, WB, ADB etc. are some of the sources of support funding.

Estuary Development Programme (EDP) initiated by BWDB in March’07, with Dutch grant funding, is a logical follow up of land reclamation activities in Meghna Estuary. The project limped for one year and since then is passing through a scaled down phase, for circustances beyond its control. Invigorating the EDP will put in motion the process of reclamation of hundreds of sq. kms of new lands from sea and push the national boundary further south resulting in a geographically bigger Bangladesh and expanding the apparently finite land resource base. The process will go on ensuring food security, in the coming decades, for millions of Bangladeshis.