Agriculture Adaptation in Haor Basin

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Abstract

This chapter attempts to capture the dynamics of hydrological regime and agricultural adaptation issues in the face of changing climate and its variability in the context of the wetland ecosystem locally known as haor. Since haor basin is geographically located at the foothill of Assam and Meghalaya is subject to high risk being hinterland of the highest rainfall zone globally. Climate change has created two prong adverse impacts particularly on agricultural cycle as damage risk increased at the beginning of seeding stage if land is not water free due to late monsoon rain and at the harvesting time early flash flood in pre-monsoon. The changing trend of climate induced hydrological regime associated with variability in the pattern and severity of rainfall triggering early and irregular flash flood in haor basin. Study finding reveals the fact that such risk in agricultural sector is increasing significantly as available days for cultivation is reduced on an average by 10–15 days compared to 30 years back, while the high yielding rice varieties cultivated at present are of longer duration compared to the local varieties. In response to this changed hydrological regime, farmers need to adapt with quick growing, diversified climate resilient cropping pattern and new adaptive technologies. Particularly, need of the time is to adapt with short duration rice variety along with high value quick growing horticulture and alternative inter cropping approach as a risk proof measures. Cropping on floating beds is found potential to create opportunity of double cropping in a single year, which would increase the livelihood opportunity for farmers in haor areas. Strategic development intervention for haor area aimed at transformational change should consider (a) climate and disaster resilient water management including advanced early warning system linked to remote vulnerable communities; (b) de-leasing haor ecosystem and ensure establishment of fish sanctuary at the dry season water body; (c) declare study based delineated area suitable for common pool resources (CPR) to be managed by the poor and marginalized people based on key principles of wise use of natural resources and improve ecosystem services; and (d) agricultural development including adaptive diversified crop and horticulture, development of fisheries and livestock for food security. Accessibility, availability and entitlement security of the poor haor community could be arranged through broad based engagement in participatory planning and management system as well as ownership in development initiatives.