Site Suitability Analysis for Dissemination of Salt-tolerant Rice Varieties in Southern Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a country of 14.4 million ha geographical area and has a population density of more than 1100 persons per sq. km. Rice is the staple food crop, growing on about 72 % of the total cultivated land and continues to be the most important crop for food security of the country. A project "Sustainable Rice Seed Production and Delivery Systems for Southern Bangladesh" has been executed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in twenty southern districts of Bangladesh. These districts grow rice in about 2.9 million ha out of the country’s total rice area of 11.3 million ha. The project aims at contributing to the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts in improving national and household food security through enhanced and sustained productivity by using salinity-, submergence- and drought- tolerant and high yielding rice varieties. Out of the 20 project districts, 12 coastal districts are affected by the problem of soil salinity. The salt-affected area in Bangladesh has increased from about 0.83 million ha in 1973 to 1.02 million ha in 2000, and 1.05 million ha in 2009 due to the influence of cyclonic storms like "Sidr", "Laila" and others, leading to salt water intrusion in croplands.
Three salinity-tolerant rice varieties have recently been bred by IRRI and field tested and released by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA). These varieties are BRRI dhan- 47 and Bina dhan-8 and - 10. However, they can tolerate soil salinity level up to EC 8−10 dSm −1, whereas the EC of soils in several areas are much higher. Therefore, a large scale dissemination of these varieties can be done only when a site suitability analysis of the area is carried out. The present study was taken up with the objective of preparing the site suitability of the salt-tolerant varieties for the salinity-affected districts of southern Bangladesh. Soil salinity map prepared by Soil Resources Development Institute of Bangladesh shows five classes of salinity. viz., non-saline with some very slight saline soil, very slightly saline with some slight saline soil, slightly saline with some moderately saline soil, strongly saline with some moderately saline soil, and very strongly saline with some strongly saline soil. The soil EC level of different classes range from 2 dSm −1 to >16 dSm −1. The soil map was geo-referenced and digitized using Arc GIS. Salinity tolerance characteristics of the rice varieties were matched with the soil characteristics shown on the map. Three suitability classes were made; soils suitable for salt-tolerant varieties, not suitable for salt-tolerant varieties due to high soil salinity, and suitable for other high yielding varieties due to slight salinity. The mauza (smallest revenue unit) boundary provided by the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council was also geo-referenced and digitized in the same projection. Overlaying and intersecting the mauza boundary on the soil suitability map provided the suitable and not suitable mauza. A total of 4070 mauzas in the 12 salinity-affected districts were listed and maps showing suitability of mauza prepared. About 0.6 million ha out of total 0.87 million ha salinity affected area were found suitable for growing the salinity-tolerant BRRI dhan-47, Bina dhan-8 and -10 in these districts. The maps and other generated information have helped the Dept. of Agriculture Extension (DAE) of Bangladesh in large scale dissemination of seeds of the salinity-tolerant rice varieties in different districts during the past two years.