The coastal zones of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India are home to millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, about 65% of whom live below the poverty line. The people of the coastal zone depend mainly on agriculture, the productivity of which is low. Productivity constraints include prolonged water logging during the wet season, increasing soil salinity and the scarcity of low salinity irrigation water in the dry season. Thus, farmers primarily grow low-yielding late-maturing traditional varieties of rice during the wet season and much of the land lies fallow during the dry season.
There are however opportunities for intensification of cropping through efficient use and optimal management of fresh surface water and groundwater resources during the dry season, through improved polder water management, careful planning of the crop calendar, and improved agronomic practices that maximise water productivity.
The project aimed to sustainably increase cropping intensity and productivity in the region, particularly in the dry season, through integrated soil, water and crop management.
The project was a collaboration between CSIRO and Murdoch University in Australia, and several Bangladeshi and Indian research organisations and universities, local non-government organisations, officials and farmers.