Project final report

Incorporating salt-tolerant wheat and pulses into smallholder farming systems in southern Bangladesh - Final Report

Date released
01 November 2023
Publication Code

William Erskine, Richard James and MG Neogi


This project aimed to improve smallholder incomes in southern Bangladesh through improved productivity and profitability of dry-season cropping on non-saline land and, with pulses and wheat with improved salinity tolerance, on saline land.

The Government of Bangladesh has prioritised its coastal zone as the most in need of development. Home to around 40 million people, about one-third of whom live below the poverty line, the region has large areas of flood-prone land with variable levels of salinity and low agricultural production. 

In order to increase smallholder household incomes through improved dry season cropping, critical research questions will address: which crops can be grown in non-saline land, how to replace rice fallows and increase production and profitability in southern Bangladesh; and is it possible to identify variation in salinity tolerance in wheat, key pulses and forages for exploitation in breeding in saline-affected land in southern Bangladesh.

The project investigated the impact of the salt tolerance Nax genes - identified in Australia - on the grain yield of bread wheat grown on saline soils in southern Bangladesh. The key outcome was strong evidence that both Nax genes have the capacity to lower leaf Na+ concentration in locally adapted bread wheat and consequently deliver improved yields in challenging field environments with moderate to high salinity.

The project found technology options for improved productivity and profitability in southern Bangladesh for pulse crops like mungbean, cowpea, grasspea, green pea, and lentil on saline lands. Abiotic stress tolerances for salinity and waterlogging were identified, requiring local adaptation for increased productivity and profitability.

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