From: Azad Majumder, Reuters
Published June 5, 2007 12:00 AM

Experts Warn Climate Change To Hit Bangladesh Food Output

DHAKA -- Rising temperatures will hurt food production in Bangladesh, and millions of people could be displaced as the seas around the low-lying nation rise, environment experts said on Tuesday.


"It is really worrying that production of our main food crops rice, wheat and potato has already started to decline," said Ainun Nishat, an environment expert at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.


"Production will deplete steadily as the climate changes more and more, and by 2015 Bangladesh, along with neighbouring countries, may be forced to look for new brand of crops," he told Reuters.


"With the changing behaviour of weather, time of rainfall has changed, drought has become more rampant while threats of more flooding also loom," Nishat said.


He said higher temperatures and concentration of carbon dioxide in the air was hurting crop output.


The water flow in the country's main rivers has also depleted, especially in summer when most food crops are sown in agrarian Bangladesh, home to more than 140 million people, mostly rice-eaters.


The supply of fish from the rivers has declined across the country, due also to the increased salinity in the rivers along the shores of the Bay of Bengal.


"The main source of water in our rivers is the upstream glaciers. The rise of temperature means these glaciers are being smaller day by day. As a result, the supply of water is being reduced," said Mozaharul Islam, a research fellow of Bangladesh Center for Advance Studies.


"It leads to drought-like situation in Bangladesh's north-western region in the dry season, affecting production of rice and wheat," he said.


The experts said around 11 percent of Bangladesh land would go under water in the next 50 years due to rise in the water level of the Bay of Bengal as a result of global warming. This will displace millions of Bangladeshis, mostly members of the fishing community.


Source: Reuters


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