The study was conducted in four Upazilas (Nachole, Tanore, Godagari and Niamotpur) under Barind Tract for a period of four months (September 2008 to December 2008) with a view to exploring the potentials of khas ponds and kharis towards the sustainable rural livelihood in the face of climate change. Diversified irrigation based farmers were the focus point of this study. In addition to the exploratory visits and FGDs, a total of 1200 farmers (selection of 300 farmers from each Upazila based on stratified random sampling) were purposively interviewed for this study.
Maximum respondents were found as landless (44.25%) and share cropper (59.50%) with education level varied from illiterate (34.33%) to below S.S.C. level (53.92%). Majority of the farmers were found within poor (64.67%, yearly income as Tk. 21000-80000) to very poor (14.67%, yearly income as Tk. 1000-20000).
65.08% farmers reported the deep tube well as prime sources for irrigation. The highest average irrigation cost (7601.47 Tk./ha) was found with Boro with a regional variation ranging from 5078.07 Tk./ha (Tanore) to 8838.67 Tk./ha (Godagari). Deep tube well based average irrigation cost was found as Tk. 92.00/hour with a regional variation ranging from Tk. 84.87/hour (Nachole) to Tk 96.84/hour (Nimotpur).
Farmers of 58.08%, 54.50% and 73.08% reported for the production of Boro, Aus, and Aman in Rabi, Kharip-1 and Kharip-2, respectively. Crop production of 3 times per year by 55.42% farmers reported was found to be dominant over the one time per year (21.83%) and two times per year (22.75%). Food consumption with special reference to plant and or animal based protein requirement was found lower as compared to the standard requirements.
A total of 6323 numbers of khas ponds (3355 acre) and 64 numbers of kharis were found to be reported in the study areas. In case of khas ponds, the major constraint was found with their control by the wealthier persons for fish culture and thereby found also no easy access by the poor to the ponds. In case of kharis, other than finding no easy access, insufficient water level in addition to the poor water quality were found to be reported as major constraints.
Present findings indicated that poor farmers are vulnerable to climate change aspects. Khas ponds and kharis can potentially be used after renovation to improve the livelihood in terms of reducing the irrigation cost and increasing the agricultural production (crop, fisheries, vegetables etc.) and income as well. This study also recommended for further studies on 1) exploring the economics of rice and fish based farming in khas ponds and kharis, 2) feasibility of integrated agriculture-aquaculture practices in irrigated land towards the increase in water productivity and 3) livelihood impacts of integrated farming under diversified irrigated ecosystems.
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