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Free Content Early Flood Events and their Impact on Poor Smallholders in Rice-Based Floodplain Farming Systems in Bangladesh

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Floodplain agriculture in Bangladesh is characterised by smallholders operating marginal parcels. Early flood arrival may damage the standing winter rice crop. Using data from a micro area, we investigate: (a) patterns of damage caused by one and two week early floods, (b) whether poorer households stand more exposed to such risks, and (c) opportunities for risk reduction. The methodology employs GIS methods combined with simple water-yield damage parameters. Results indicate that lower elevation plots are inundated by floods arriving even a week or two early, and significant crop loss may result. The factors causing late harvesting, leading to early flood risk exposure, are (i) preceding winter rice with mustard, and (ii) using older, long duration, varieties. Planting mustard (to finance inputs for the following rice crop) delays planting of winter rice sufficiently to expose it to flood damage risk. Poorer classes are found to operate disproportionately large amounts of lower elevation land, which exposes them more to early flood risk. We find that 'squeezing' the crop calendar is best achieved within the rice calendar itself. Smallholders are using the earlier generation of rice varieties, while shorter duration varieties providing better yields are available. Thus available technology is failing to reach vulnerable smallholders.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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