BARCIK arranged a press conference titled “Salinity, Green economy & Grassroots voice” today (4 June, 2012) in national press club Dhaka. The press conference aimed at depicting the wounds and woes of the farmers in Southern-western coastal areas namely Shymnagar of Satkhira, Koyra of Khulna, Matharia of Barguna and Pathorghata of Pirojpur districts caused due to climate change and human induced activities. Besides, the press conference did tell the journalists about the local initiatives of those grassroots people to combat the changed situation due to climate change and build green economy of their own to uphold their existence over there. Inclduing BARCIK staffs and some 100 journalists attended in the press conference.
The press conference started at 11.00 AM through the keynote paper presentation which was presented by Monojoy Mondal, Associate Program Officer of BARCIK in Shymnagar. Based on the several questions of journalists, Sirajul Islam said, “Salinity and water logging situation are the main problems of our area, particularly saline water damages the soil, crops and source of fresh water.” He added, “But we have taken initiative to conduct varietals selection to select saline tolerant rice varieties and we have succeeded. We have so far introduced some local varieties of saline tolerant rice and exchanged them with other farmers. Cultivating these varieties, farmers are able to produce good yield. Nirojan Jowarder, a farmer from Burigowalini said, “Salinity is our main problem. Unplanned shrimp cultivation has made saline water intrusion to our agro fields leading us unable to farm crops. On the other hand, we are facing immense fresh water crisis due to lack of fresh water sources.” He went on saying, “We use the water of some ponds in the area to meet the fresh water demand but due to these ponds have been leased to the influential persons and commercial fish farming takes place in those ponds we cannot use the water for drinking. We urge the government to take initiative stopping leasing system and leaving out the properties in the hands of general people”.
Shafiqur Islam, UP member of Amadi Union of Koyra said, “Including Koyra if want to save the lives and livelihoods of farmers and facilitate to build a green economy in the Southern-Western coastal area, however, first of all we need to re-excavate the ponds, canals and other wetlands as well as lease out the leased wetlands.” He said, “Salinity is a major problem but people of the area have been upholding their existence combating with this adversity through their local initiative. He urged the government to take initiative excavating Kinukathi and Abdal canals and lease out the leasing of Terowal canal of Koyra. Farmer leader Shahid Palhan from Mathbaria said, “People of Barguan and Piroj areas have been practicing local water management system which is locally called BER, from a long time to meet their water demands for household and agriculture use. But saline water intrusion somehow has disrupted the initiative of these people. Therefore, I urge the government to promote the local initiative as well as stop the unplanned activities such shrimp cultivation, wetlands encroachment and lease of wetlands.” He went on saying, “These common properties should be left open for farmers and general people so that they could use to boost their socio-economic life.
Other discussants in the press conference included: Ms Kalidashi Jowerder, Joyosree Rani Mandol, Sunil Kabiraj from Shymnagar, Mathbaria and Koyra.