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How zero tillage potato cultivation is empowering women and transforming lives in Bangladesh

In a groundbreaking development for agricultural practices in coastal Bangladesh, the International Potato Center has introduced a transformative method for potato cultivation: zero tillage using rice straw mulch. This innovative technique addresses the environmental challenges posed by traditional agricultural practices while promoting economic growth, women’s empowerment, and improved rural livelihoods.

In Bangladesh’s coastal areas, which account for over 30% of the cultivable land, the prevalent rice-based cropping system has been facing challenges. After harvesting local Aman rice, much of the land remains fallow, and rice straws are often burned, leading to carbon emission issues.

The new method of potato zero tillage using rice straw mulch presents a sustainable solution by increasing resource-use efficiencies, recycling straw as mulch, and not disturbing the soil structure. This leads to multiple benefits: enhanced soil fertility, higher carbon stocks, reduced soil erosion, and less input runoff.

The zero tillage method also offers significant socio-economic advantages. It is less labor-intensive, reducing cultivation costs and making it more accessible for women to participate in agricultural activities. Women in the Dacope and Batiaghata upazilas of Khulna district are now increasingly involved in various stages of potato production, from seed preparation to storage, fostering a sense of ownership and control over the harvested products.

Overall, this technique not only mitigates environmental damage but also conserves soil moisture and minimizes weed effects. By enabling the cultivation of saline-tolerant potato varieties in coastal areas, it opens new opportunities for agricultural productivity in challenging environments.

The International Potato Center’s initiative stands as a beacon of innovation in sustainable agriculture, demonstrating its profound impact on environmental and social sustainability.

Source: International Potato Center (CIP). Read the full pdf document here
Authors of the original report: Dr. Ebna Habib Md. Shofiur Rahaman and Dr. Nozomi Kawarazuka, International Potato Center
Photo: Credit CIP

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