Civilization entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. With the advancement of this revolution in technology, we are witnessing a world entirely entering into the most modern farming system. In Bangladesh, Agriculture is a mainstay of the economy, contributing to 16.5% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and serving as the largest employment sector in the country. Being the seventh most climate-vulnerable country, today and into the coming decades, the country is likely to be negatively affected by sea level rise and saltwater intrusion, mean temperature increases (1.7o C by 2050), rainfall variability, and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Each of these factors will have considerable impacts on agricultural production in the country. Therefore, Bangladesh needs an immediate paradigm shift to build climate-smart agroecology to mitigate the emerging world food crisis in the national context.
Climate-smart agriculture is an approach for developing agricultural strategies to secure sustainable food security under climate change. This concept refers to climate-responsive agriculture which can sustain productivity amid a changing climate, enhance resilience and reduce greenhouse gases. To help with the process many initiatives are being taken in Bangladesh to initiate and promote CSA. Considering the context of the ongoing demographic dividend, Bangladesh has a huge potential to include young people in the process of Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives. Government and development organizations are trying to introduce a system of inclusion for youth in CSA activities. Following this process-oriented intervention, WAVE Foundation, a civil society organization is facilitating community young people from climate-vulnerable communities in Bangladesh. It encourages young people of communities to undertake community-based climate action projects CCAPs) to promote climate-smart agriculture under the project Youth in Climate Action Promotion (YCAP). The organization is implementing the project in partnership with DHAN Foundation, India following the same intervention to promote climate-smart agriculture in three vulnerable communities of Tamilnadu, India. This initiative of empowering youth project is being supported by Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec) to undertake youth-led community-based climate actions focusing on adapting smart technologies and tools, mitigating the overall food crisis, and food security, and contributing to community-based climate adaptive measures.
Young people in communities have been trying to bring changes to produce more crops, connect local government members, farmers and initiate awareness campaigns while growing the community wider in their activities. WAVE Foundation has facilitated young people of several vulnerable communities from Patuakhali (saline intruded community), Barisal (coastal community), and Chuadanga (drought-prone community) to undertake community-based climate actions to promote climate-smart agriculture while providing them with participatory training that includes 21st-century skills, climate leadership skills, digital literacy, and climate-smart agriculture knowledge. The community youth groups have undertaken two climate action projects for each community. Following the trend, a total of six community-based climate action projects have been initiated by youth groups.
The following six youth-led community-based-climate action projects (CCAP) running in Bangladesh will give an overall insight into what are leading changes to bring a new phase of smart agriculture in their respective communities.
Youth Leadership in Smart Agriculture: This CCAP has been a crowd-puller for the last few months at Parkrishnapur Modna, Chuadanga. Young people have run a full-fledged campaign utilizing several creative campaigning strategies to aware community people about smart agriculture. They have done a whole-day roadshow in six different unions filled with songs, promotional agricultural quotes, and discussions of different stakeholders involving agriculture officers, farmers, the chairman, and other relevant parties. Through this community action project, young people have become familiar with the community and people entrust them with responsibilities associated with smart agriculture.
Youth Role in Agriculture Development: For young people, one of the effective methods to reach community people is street drama. Young people have written and performed a drama named 'Krishi Somachar'(Agriculture Bulletin) through which they have tried to reflect the sole connection between smart agriculture and the role of young people in the overall agriculture development. In this street drama, the young group organized a half-day musical session and drama event at the most rural place in the community. As it was a public event, young people have shown their leadership skills vividly ensuring quality performance and public management while promoting climate action.
Producing Safe Crops: Being the Baishbari community that is close to the sea, it is hard to produce safe crops in the community. There are several losses that take place in terms of crop production in the community due to its climate vulnerability. Therefore, the youth group organized a plan to promote safe crop production and save farmers' effort and money in their community. While executing the plan they first reached out to the farmers and communicated agriculture officer through meetings. They conducted the farmers' orientation meeting on safe crop production. Following the process, they organized training for farmers provided by the agriculture officials alongside local government representatives. Packets of seeds were also given to the farmers after the training. Now, farmers of this community are trying to replicate the learning from the training while farming.
Producing Climate Resilient Crop: The Krisnakati community is particularly climate vulnerable. When it comes to agricultural production it has seen the worst effect of climate change. To mitigate this adverse effect, the youth group decided to learn and spread the process of producing climate-resilient crops in their community. Thus, they took the initiative of organizing farmers, giving them orientation, and connecting with the agriculture officer, hence organizing training for the farmers by agricultural officials to produce climate-resilient crops. Young people themselves have learned together a lot to contribute to spreading the climate resilient crops in the community now.
Promotion of Smart Agriculture Practice: Young groups have initiated a process-oriented intervention to aware farmers of smart agriculture practices at West Tangrakhali, Patuahali. Under this CCAP, young leaders have run a number of interventions following six distinct steps including Field Survey and Farmers List Preparation, Meeting with the Upazila Agriculture Officer, Preparatory Meeting for the Youth Volunteers, Farmers Orientation Meeting, and Training on Smart Agriculture Practice. They prepared a list of farmers in their community, communicated with the Upazila Agriculture Officer, and provided a farmers' orientation on smart agriculture practices. They also organized a linkage meeting with the Agriculture officer to provide training to the farmers. After the training, they distributed seeds to make demo plots selecting 04 farmers from the community. This vibrant youth group did not end their journey here, they also distributed 5000 leaflets in their community as part of their campaign to promote smart agriculture practices.
Promotion of Disaster Resilient Agriculture: As the community, East Tangrakhali is a disaster-prone area, the youth group has witnessed people suffering from the loss of agricultural production due to natural disasters. They came up with a plan to promote disaster-resilient agriculture following a five steps intervention. Starting by forming the farmers' list, they have convinced the Upazila Agriculture Officer to provide training on disaster-resilient agriculture. All the management they have done utilizes their existing community resources, which are very limited. More than 50 farmers joined the training and these young people have been trying to establish the practice of disaster-resilient agriculture in their community.
As the world's population is growing at a rapid rate, we need to be conscious of our food production and food security. Thus, smart agriculture is a need of time and for this, we have to go for a mechanized cultivation system. The young generation will lead the advent and adoption of the concept of smart agriculture in Bangladesh. The involvement of youth in this giant agroecology-building process will help the flow of food productivity by introducing climate-smart agriculture as an adaptive measure nationally.
Md Masud Parvez is currently working as Program Officer, Communications and Knowledge Management Division, WAVE Foundation.
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