Agriculture plays a vital role in the economy of this country, ensuring food security and safety for its people. Apart from contributing to GDP, agriculture employs approximately 12% of the workforce.
Recently Global temperature rise and climate change intensify issues like salinity, cyclones, droughts, irregular rainfall, and sudden floods, adversely affecting agriculture across the country.
In the context of global warming, ensuring food security for the country’s growing population has become a major challenge. With decreasing arable land on one hand and a rapid increase in population on the other, addressing this multifaceted problem requires the development of climate-resilient crops.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring food security, Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) has established a state-of-the-art Greenhouse through the ‘Agrometeorological Information System Development Project (AISDP)’ of the Directorate of Agricultural Extension and with financial support from the World Bank. Under the leadership of Dr A.B.M. Arif Hasan Robin, a former head of the Department of Agrometeorology at BAU, this modern Greenhouse aims to develop climate-resilient crop varieties.
In this context, the research at the Greenhouse focuses on creating new varieties of crops that are tolerant to natural adversities. Last year, under this project, postgraduate students initiated research on various climate-resilient crop varieties.
Essentially, a Greenhouse is a structure where various environmental factors such as temperature, heat duration, light duration, water, salinity, humidity, etc. are controlled to analyze and explain their effects on different crops. This allows for consistent production in various crops throughout the year.
The research goals at the Greenhouse include maintaining controlled quantities of water for each plant, various fertilizer amounts, and applying water and fertilizer at the right time through a central programming room.
This is achieved using sensor based gadgets brought from Turkey, which rely on ‘NRI Crop Technology.’
The machine supplies measured amounts of nutrient elements for each plant since the quantities of nutrients are not the same for each crop.
Additionally, the machine creates a controlled environment by changing parameters such as light intensity, light duration, temperature, and water for each plant in the roped area. Several students are actively involved in diverse research areas within the Greenhouse.
Tanjim Ahmed is working on developing salt-tolerant rice varieties by controlling temperature and salt stress in separate chambers. His research aims to understand the changes within the rice plant under these conditions and how to mitigate those changes.
Another student, Jaber Sohag, is working on developing heat and salt-tolerant varieties of tomatoes.
By maintaining a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius within the Greenhouse, he aims to observe the physiological changes within the tomato plants and develop varieties that can withstand high temperatures.
Sarajum Monira is focused on developing rice varieties that are tolerant to both submergence and high temperatures. Her work involves studying the physiological changes within rice plants under elevated temperatures and submergence and finding ways to mitigate those changes.
In Bangladesh, the cultivation of rice using the waterlogged method during the Boro season yields good production. However, a significant issue with this cultivation method is the excessive emission of methane gas, which is harmful to the environment.
Farzana Akhtar, a postgraduate student, is working on developing a variety of rice that maintains high yield in waterlogged conditions while reducing methane gas emissions.
Under the guidance of Professor Dr A.B.M. Arif Hasan Khan, this state-of-the-art Greenhouse has been established to facilitate cutting-edge research.
The research conducted by postgraduate and PhD students not only contributes to academic knowledge but also holds great promise for developing climate-resilient crop varieties that can address the challenges of climate change and ensure food security for the country.
Dr. A.B.M. Arif Hasan Khan expressed hope that the Greenhouse will play a pivotal role in developing hydroponic methods for various crops and vegetables in the future. This approach would guarantee insecticide-free, pure vegetable production.
The establishment of this modern Greenhouse at BAU represents a significant step forward in agricultural research, providing a platform for developing climate-resilient crop varieties.
The future holds the promise of hydroponic cultivation, ensuring the production of pure, insecticide-free vegetables.