Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. It is situated on a lowlying delta, making its people vulnerable to extreme weather events and flooding. Helping the poorest people lift themselves out of poverty and respond to the challenges of climate change are focal areas of Australia’s support.
One of Bangladesh’s key development challenges is food availability within the context of increasing climate change. Low-lying areas and rainfed cropping systems in Bangladesh are negatively impacted by seasonal climate variability, reduced freshwater river flows, and increasing migration of seawater upriver and into groundwater systems. In addition, Bangladesh faces the problem of inadequate nutrition, derived from multiple factors, including differing consumption practices by different genders, variations in international markets and effectiveness of institutions. The National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction articulates the Bangladesh Government’s vision for growth through sustainable technologies that are profitable, job-creating and ecologically adaptable. It identifies the need for diversifying both crop and non-crop systems and developing agribusiness services.
Bangladesh has been an ACIAR partner country since the mid 1990s. Within the context of the Australia–Bangladesh country strategy, ACIAR’s focus lies on the achievement of MDG 1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger) through improved productivity of food grain crops. The past emphasis on ‘Rabi’ (winter season) crops such as pulses, wheat and maize is shifting towards a farming systems approach supporting broader food security issues. This approach includes research on conservation agriculture, farm mechanisation, saline land management and adaptation to climate change, particularly in rice–wheat and rice–maize systems.