“For almost half of a year, we remain drowned in floods,” Montu Mian, a 45-year-old farmer from Satkhira district in southwestern Bangladesh, told. “Salinity is a perennial problem. So, we can neither cultivate crops nor fishes. If we cultivate fish in ponds, we cannot use the water for drinking or cooking purposes, as it becomes filthy. We cannot afford that luxury as the source for drinking water is scarce due to salinity.”

Two-third of Bangladesh is wetlands, and most parts remain submerged for eight months at a stretch almost every year. Bangladesh is prone to floods and water-logging due to Ganga-Brahmaputra river tributaries that flow through the nation and often change their course.

“Last year, Bangladesh witnessed heavy monsoon that submerged one-third of its area,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a convention of 40 world leaders called by U.S. President Joseph R. Biden to discuss the climate crisis. She sought G20 nations’ critical role in stopping carbon emissions and said cyclones have become usual in her part of the world due to climate change.

When summit participants raised the “need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape”, Hasina highlighted that Bangladesh had invented salinity and flood-tolerant crops, floating agriculture technology, and mobile water treatment plants for the coastal people.

As dry land became scarce, Miya was forced to use dhaps, a local name for floating garden agricultural practice or hydroponics, to keep his family going. It is a type of horticulture that involves growing plants without soil — a technique, Miya says, was used by his ancestors 300-400 years ago in the central flood plains of Bangladesh. “This method has become a blessing for us,” Miya said. “Now we can grow fish and vegetables together without polluting ponds. It has become a steady source of income for many poor landless farmers like me.”

“Floating farming beds are made of water hyacinth and local aquatic weeds, which make starting this relatively inexpensive,” Fahmida Akter, a senior research fellow at the James P Grant School of Public Health of BRAC University in Dhaka, told. “Water hyacinths are piled up on a bamboo base, and when the bed reaches the desired size and thickness, it’s left for 2-3 weeks to decompose before it is ready for farming.”

A floating garden takes about 12 hours to make if two men work together for one raft. After the decomposition of crop seeds, they are placed inside ball-like structures made of soil and wrapped by coconut fiber. The seedlings shoot up in around seven days, after which they are transplanted in the floating gardens.

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