How does agricultural land use systems impact on biodiversity as well as the livelihood of farmers?
This is what Dr Md Shafiqul Bari, at the Department of Agroforestry and Environment, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University in Bangladesh is doing research on. He works specifically in the northern part of Bangladesh. AgriFoSe2030 took the opportunity to talk with him about his recent programme-related visit to Indonesia.
Dr Bari has a background in agriculture, agroforestry and environmental sciences and has done on Ph.D. on multi-layered agroforestry production systems. His main interests lay in sustainable agriculture and eco-friendly farming systems.
His academic expertise is vast, covering topics such as the fundamentals of environmental science, biodiversity, environmental protection, strategic environmental assessment, disaster management, climate change, environment friendly cropping systems and food security through sustainable agriculture. In the future Dr Bari hope to work in achieving food security and safe food production through improved agroforestry systems.
What have you been doing during your visit in Indonesia and in the AgriFoSe2030 programme?
– I have gathered lots of relevant data and documents about the multifunctional char land uses in the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Indonesia office. The collected data were related to the demographic status of char land farmers. Char are areas of land surrounded by water bodies, for example the sea, a lake, or a stream; a piling up of sediments in a river course or estuary. I have been studying farmers’ opinions on agroforestry and trees, problems they are facing for managing agroforestry in char lands, current agriculture and agroforestry practices by farmers, species diversity in char lands (both trees and crops), farmers’ income sources etc.
– Through consultations with ICRAF, all the data were analysed and interpreted using appropriate tools (SPSS software) to generate some information about the present status and future potential of agriculture and agroforestry practices in char lands. ICRAF scientist and mentor Dr James M. Roshetko also helped to access quality articles for reviewing and correlated it with the undertaken research on char land. I have used ICRAF’s library and other digital tools enabling me to write a scientific article on the topic. Furthermore, I have presented my results in a seminar at ICRAF and CIFOR. During this seminar, I got lots of important feedback in how to improve the article.
What are your expectations of the activity that you are taking part of?
– I think a potential collaborative link has been established between me and ICRAF researchers. This collaboration is a step to develop future research on multifunctional landscape management for food security in both Bangladesh and Indonesia.
– Moreover, a policy brief about the multifunctional uses of char lands of Bangladesh will be available soon for policy-makers and this can help to alleviate food insecurity in a largely deprived area of Bangladesh. Furthermore, the peer-reviewed scientific article will be published in an impact factor journal which I hope can be beneficial from a professional career perspective for all researchers involved. Finally, for the ones who want more in-depth information; we will also publish an AgriFoSe2030 report on multifunctional char landscapes and what they mean for food security and livelihoods of char land dwellers.
What do you think makes the AgriFoSe2030 programme important, and why and to whom does it matter?
– The developing and low-income countries, like Bangladesh, are facing the lack of agricultural land. The agricultural land of Bangladesh is shrinking at an alarming rate. At the same time, the population is increasing rapidly. Therefore, it is a big challenge to sustainably feed and fulfil other requirements of this increasing population. Indeed, agricultural land use is also key for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in an increasingly threatened global environment.
– We should follow a sound agro-ecological system which can sustain human beings with food crops, raw materials for fibers, fuels, and medicines as well as protect soil fertility, conserve water and soils, sequester more carbon and mitigate climate change. I think the AgriFoSe2030 programme is in the right place to deal with this issue. Actually, AgriFoSe2030 contributes to sustainable intensification of agriculture for increased food production on existing agricultural land.
– What I also like with the programme is that it equips young agricultural scientists of low-income countries with the right tools to tackle these food security challenges.
Tell us one thing that you are passionate about related to food security and agriculture.
– I am passionate about eco-friendly agroforestry systems in both homestead and crop land. Agroforestry focuses at creation of a natural environment and works to increase diversity of agricultural products through maximum utilization of land. Well planned land use systems combining woody perennials and other production enterprises in accordance with farmers’ needs, goals and resources is the only way forward to a sustainable agriculture in the coming future.
– In Bangladesh, the scope of agroforestry is vast. The main places for where you can find agroforestry practices in Bangladesh are on homesteads, in crop lands, roadsides, railway sides, embankment sides, pond sides, char lands, coastal areas, deforested areas, institutional premises, riversides, canal sides etc. It is endless! Among these, char lands are the most important areas for practicing agroforestry systems in Bangladesh. I believe that through agroforestry practices, char land dwellers of Bangladesh can get more food, enough timber, as well as a better environment.
Interview by Anneli Sundin, AgriFoSe2030 Communication and Engagement.