Worldwide less and less land is available for agriculture. One of the reasons is salinization, the increase of the salt concentration in the soil. This can have different causes, like flooding by the sea or by saline water rising through the soil. As a result, crops no longer grow on the land and it is no longer suitable for agriculture.
Unfortunately salinization is a growing problem all around the world. Research of the United Nations University shows that 62 million hectares of agricultural land has already been affected by salt. That is over 18 times the size of The Netherlands. And this area continues to increase. Per day an average of another 2,000 hectare of agricultural land is lost by salinization. That is often in countries where there is already a food shortage, but worldwide too, salt poses a threat to the growing demand for food.
In Bangladesh salinization is also a serious problem, especially in the coastal areas. The people who live in this area are poor to very poor. They largely depend on small scale agriculture to survive. But because of increasing salinization of the soil this is becoming harder and harder. And according to the World Bank this will become even worse over the coming decades. As a result people are no longer capable of feeding their families. They have no income and are forced to migrate to the cities, where they end up in slums or on the street.
Solution for soil salinization
As a solution for soil salinization, efforts so far have been mainly aimed at reducing salt concentrations in the soil. But the means used for that are expensive and damage the soil and the crops. Apart from that, their effects are short-lived. This innovative project turns this growing problem into a sustainable solution. Instead of fighting the salt in the soil, we want salt affected soil to be able to be used for agriculture again. That is possible by introducing varieties of well-known crops that do grow on salt affected land. This way, degraded soil becomes productive once again. And that offers new opportunities
Funding and beneficiaries
The Salt Solution project is funded by the National Postcode Lottery, Netherlands. ICCO Cooperation Bangladesh is lead partner and SFT is technical implementer and CODEC is implementing. Direct beneficiaries are 5000 small holder farmers and indirect beneficiaries are 25,000 small holder farmers. The project is working in 8 upazilas of 4 districts in saline affected coastal area of Bangladesh.