Bangladeshi Farmers Experiment With Salt-Resistant Rice

An interesting report from NPR about one of the many low-cost solutions to adapting to climate change:

Climate change is one reason farmland in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly saline. This is especially the case in the coastal south, which was traditionally the country’s rice basket. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of acres of land lay fallow. Production of rice and other salt-sensitive crops, such as potato and mustard, has decreased.

Since 2011, about 180,000 farmers have received saline-tolerant rice seeds and training on how to grow them. It’s part of a program sponsored by three nonprofits: the International Rice Research Institute, the World Fish Center and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

Bangladesh is the world’s sixth-largest rice producer. Rice accounts for 70 percent of calories consumed by its population of 160 million.

Agriculture that can withstand climatic threats is especially important in Bangladesh. The country is a low-lying river delta and thus is vulnerable to floods and violent storms. It is also one of the world’s most densely populated countries: Imagine more than half the U.S. population crammed into an area the size of Iowa.

Scientists at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute created the new varieties by crossbreeding rice varieties that were already naturally resistant to salty soil. So they’re not genetically modified plants.

Obviously, the most ideal route is stopping or mitigating climate change. But in the meantime, this is a vital stop-gap. Hundreds of millions of people cannot wait for the powers that be — mostly in the developed world — to do something about it.

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