I. ENVIRONMENT AND ASSESSMENT OF FLOOD IMPACTS
D. Related population and socio-economic setting
2. Agriculture sector
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people employing more than 61 per cent of the labour force. This sector represents the major economic activity (in terms of employment and income) of the vast majority of the rural population.
Crops:The climate of Bangladesh provides conditions suitable for growing a wide range of annual and perennial crops. There are nearly 100 different types of crops grown in Bangladesh (Harza, 1991a). Rice accounts for about 84 per cent of the total cultivated area. A favourable floodplain environment including extensive monsoon rainfall, dietary habits and socio-cultural preferences have made rice the dominant crop. Droughts during the monsoon often necessitate supplemental irrigation for the rice fields. Other main crops are jute, grown under rain-fed conditions, and wheat, grown under irrigation in the dry season. In addition, numerous minor crops like potatoes, oil seeds, pulses, vegetables etc are grown in the dry season, usually without irrigation. Different varieties of rice grown in Bangladesh include Aus rice in kharif-1 season (April-July/August), Aman rice in kharif-2 season (July-December) and Boro rice in rabi season (December-May). Aus and Aman are rainfed crops whereas the water requirement of the Boro crop during the dry season is met through irrigation. Almost 50 per cent of the cultivated area is single cropped; 42 per cent is double cropped area and 8 per cent is triple cropped. Area coverage and production of major crops in 1993-94 are shown in Table 2. It may be noted that despite having fertile lands, yield per acre is still one of the lowest in the world accounting for only 1.80 tons/ha (average of Aus, Aman and Boro). The present coverage of high-yielding varieties (HYV) Aus and HYV Aman is only 25 per cent and 27 per cent respectively of the potential areas, while coverage of HYV Boro has reached 88 per cent of the potential areas. The scope for further expansion of the Boro area and production appears to be limited in view of the fact that most of the area considered suitable for irrigated wetland crops has already been exhausted. It appears that there is considerable potential for increasing HYV only in the Aman season.
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1996a
Fishery: In Bangladesh, fish accounts for over 80 per cent of the animal protein intake among the general population and 7 per cent of total protein in the average diet. Over the last thirty years (1965-96), a fall in per capita consumption of fish protein from 33 grams in 1965-66 to around 21 grams in 1994-95 has been recorded. There are about 0.9 million fishermen in the country who make their livelihood by fishing. ODA (1995) estimates that during the monsoon, 70-80 per cent of the rural population is engaged in fishing. In the past, fisheries and agriculture were complementary in the floodplains but with increasing population pressure and intensive agriculture, the two are now in conflict.
Livestock: Livestock is another important sub-sector that contributes significantly to agriculture sector growth. Although the livestock population of the country is not adequate to meet the requirements of draught power and meat consumption, its importance in the rural economy is enormous. Gradual loss of open grazing land is one of the major problems hindering growth of the livestock sector.