Sundarbans, located on the southern part of the Bengal Delta, is the single largest deltaic tidal mangrove forest in the world, with an area of 10,200 km2 area, spreading over4, 263 km2 in India and 5,937 km2 in Bangladesh. Agriculture is the major livelihood in this region and Fishing along with aquaculture forms the second largest livelihood of the coastal communities in Sundarbans. However, due to severe effects of climate change, sea level rise and coastal flooding, these two livelihood options are under threat in this region. Hence, SEED (Society for Socio Economic and Ecological Development) has been working since last one decade in this region to develop different alternative livelihood in Sundarbans.
Agriculture practices are influenced by fresh water availability, rainfall, soil salinity etc. of the region. Sea level rise, saline water intrusion, erratic rain fall and increase in intensity of natural disasters pose serious threat to the natural condition required for agriculture. Again, in islands like Ghoramara, Mousuni and some areas of Sagar like Muriganga, the agricultural lands are decreasing every year due to breaching of embankments and saline water intrusion. Large section of the community is landless labours. So, they are the poorest and in the worst socio-economic condition.
SEED is building up capacity to reduce economic vulnerability of climate change by following activities in different sectors of livelihood generation. We are working with more than 700 women SHGs (self Help Groups) and 10 FPGs (Fish Production Groups) covering more than 10000 families in Sundarbans who have been given capacity building trainings in different livelihood activities which are discussed below-
Climate Adaptive Agriculture: (a) Provided capacity building trainings to the farmers on organic farming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a great extent. Organic agriculture is being considered as one of the appropriate farming systems that could serve the twin objectives of climate change mitigation as also adaptation. Workshops on sustainable agriculture were organized with technical guidance of eminent agricultural scientists from Central Integrated Pest Management Centre (CIPMC), Government of India. (b) Introduced SRI method of paddy cultivation which requires low water and is labour intensive. Precision farming and low carbon agriculture practices were introduced with technical support from Food and Agriculture Engineering Department, IIT, Kharagpur, West Bengal. (c) Capacity building training on Integrated Pest Management, scientific use of Bio-fertilizers, preparation of vermin compost etc. The farmers were also taught the soil testing methods before applying water and fertilizer to their fields. (d) Betel vine and vegetable cultivators were trained in organic method of betel vine cultivation to increase the quality and yield of their product. Provided trainings on water conservation and use of appropriate quantity of water usage in the betel vine (Paan) farm as excessive use of water was causing damage of a huge amount of crops every year. Regular expert visits to the beetle vine farms and vegetable farms were arranged so that they receive inputs from them based on their individual field problems. (e) Salt tolerant variety of paddies was given to 28 farmers of Sagar Island and 12 farmers in Mousuni Island for introducing the species for commercial farming. It was organized in association with Rice Research Institute, Government of West Bengal. The paddies were given to the farmers whose cultivable lands turned sterile following salt water intrusion during the huge coastal flooding in July 2014.