Guide Pre-Flood Technology

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There are approximately 2. Despite efforts made to control floods, evidence exists to indicate that their frequency is increasing. Those in Bangladesh and India are caused by deforestation of the Himalayan foothills in Nepal, and this is responsible for erosion and excessive silting of riverbeds and erratic rainfall patterns. The rural network of roads in Bangladesh also prevents proper drainage and this leads to frequent occurrence of local flooding. Although people in such areas have developed farming systems that adjust to the timing and duration of floods, their unpredictability can cause immense loss to crops, livestock, fisheries and other properties.

Efforts to control them have often failed to produce the desired results. Sometimes, they have disturbed the way of life of the rural folk and further aggravated malnutrition and poverty levels in certain cases. This proves that flood mitigation steps to be developed, must take into account the farmers' traditional wisdom and farming methods developed by them to cope up with floods. Deepwater rice is sometimes planted on the margins of large depressions or bils in Bangladesh and eastern India, where flooding is experienced up to nine or ten months of the year.

Its duration is a month or two less in most regions where traditional tall cultivars are grown, and in transitional areas where the floodwater is not expected to rise above 0. The Chao Phraya delta in Thailand has probably the most sophisticated water control system in the region. It comprises a network of canals, dikes, channels and large storage dams built over the last hundred years.

It has the advantage of adequate gradient to distribute fresh water by gravity from its headwork located near Chainat. The system also includes large-scale irrigation and hydroelectric power generation at several large upstream reservoirs and protective dikes around Bangkok. Early and late season water levels are usually well controlled and they benefit rice farmers considerably.

The Mekong and Irrawaddy deltas were sparsely populated, inaccessible and unhealthy a hundred years ago, and in both of them the first canals were dug primarily to improve transportation. The gentle slope of the former makes flood protection very difficult. Water distribution is not possible by gravity alone, and during the dry season, the tidal effect is felt as far up the river as Phnom Penh situated nearly km from the sea.

Flood control measures in the Cambodian lowlands are less developed and most of the shallow canals were built with great suffering and loss of life during the Khmer Rouge period. There are no storage dams on the Mekong itself and those on its tributaries have little effect on river flow during the monsoon season. Attempts to control floods in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin have been largely unsuccessful, despite the erection of several thousand kilometers of embankments, drainage canals and protective earthworks on the two main rivers and their major tributaries.

Since the fourteenth century, water has been diverted from the upper Ganges to irrigate the fertile Ganges-Yamuna doab Stone, , and there is now a barrage across the river at Farakka near the Bangladesh border.

However, violent discharges of the Himalayan streams continue to cause extensive crop damage and loss of life. The Kosi River of north Bihar is the worst hit. No attempt has, so far, been made to curb the flow of the Brahmaputra by dam or barrage, and as a consequence, it has brought disastrous floods to the Assam Valley and Bangladesh in , and In , most of the Mekong delta was a vast inaccessible forest swamp that was sparsely populated by pioneer farmers who planted rice and fished in its abundant waters.

However, since the last decade, considerable development has taken place along some of the main river branches in the Vietnamese delta. Fresh water pumped from an irrigation-drainage system directly on to the land and low embankments to delay flooding, is extending the cropping season and making double cropping possible Mekong Committee, Fishing is second only to rice culture in the Mekong delta and floodplains. Pantula, b. It directly or indirectly involves 25 per cent of the population and supplies 40 to 60 per cent of the animal protein. In , the annual fish production of the Lower Mekong basin was estimated at about 0.

Although its fish fauna is very rich, only about 10 species are well known to fishermen. In Cambodia, no detailed hydrological records on flooding of farmers' fields are kept. A vast area below Kratie, around the Great Lake and on the plains of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River and its tributaries, floods every year. Compared with Vietnam, the occurrence here is earlier and more severe, and the cultivation of floating rice is more risky because of rapid inundation. There is no recent account of this in Cambodia. It appears that most deepwater rice lands presently practice mono cropping.

In the southern Cambodian delta, some farmers plant deepwater rice in the back swamps and grow a partially irrigated rice crop on higher land, i.

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In Kandal province, farmers combine crops such as maize with deepwater rice, while some plant sesame and mung bean in rotation with floating rice, and in Prey Veng, attempts are made to replace the standard floating rice fallow pattern with two short-duration modern rice varieties, as in the case of Vietnam Puckridge, Here, severely flooded areas have undergone dramatic changes over the last 20 years.

Broadcast deepwater rice is the dominant crop in the Trans Bassac Horst region that usually floods less than one meter. Three factors are responsible for recent innovations in their cropping patterns, namely:. In the early eighties, the provinces of An Giang, Dony Thap and Northern Hau Giang in the Vietnamese delta have integrated the planting of deepwater rice with upland crops. The latter include sesame, mung bean and soybean and are planted with zero tillage on non-acidic and moderately acidic soils, immediately after the harvesting of floating rice, using stubble as mulch.

Several such crops together with maize and cowpea are mixed with floating rice in the pre-flood period. Many radical changes including the replacement of deepwater rice monocrop by two modern varieties has taken place in An Giang, Dong Thap, Long An and Kien Giang provinces.

In deeply flooded regions, the double-cropped area extends to both sides of the main canals for a distance of about 5 km. However, traditional mono cropping of floating rice persists along the river. Multiple cropping has clearly made an impact on the income of farmers in these deepwater regions. Compared with a single, floating rice crop, double cropping with modern cultivars gives three to seven times higher net return, followed by maize 2 to 3 times higher and sesame 2.

In Dong Thap province, fish production declined to one-tenth of its previous level when floating rice was replaced by two irrigated modern varieties Puckridge, This is probably due to the removal of natural fish habitants and the effects of fertilizers and pesticides. To compensate for this loss, there is a move to build ponds to rear fish.

In the Red River basin of northern Vietnam, deepwater rice was introduced as a wet season crop. Early flooding sometimes destroys the newly transplanted crop and in very wet years, it may have to be replanted several times. This results in very low yields or complete crop failure Kanter, b. Submergence tolerance remains a useful trait for new cultivars developed for these areas.


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Deepwater rice is a predominant crop in the flood prone areas of India. There is little genetic erosion in such terrain in eastern India because of the release of only a few high yielding varieties for planting Singh, et. The rate of replacement with new ones is slow due to poor seed distribution and farmers' preference for specific traits. This is the case in the rain-fed lowlands and more so in deepwater areas. However, in more favorable sections of the latter, modern varieties have started to make an impact. Farmers only adopt them in carefully chosen fields that can provide a good harvest and they also manage the crop better.

They have as yet to make inroads in flood prone deepwater terrain. In these areas boro -season rice gives a higher yield and more profit to farmers Thakur and Singh, In Bangladesh, land is classified according to flood depth; highland above flood level , medium highland-1 up to 0. About 1. It is possible to increase the planting area, but market demand and price should be considered when making recommendations for such an environment. Research conducted by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute BRRI proved that it is feasible to cultivate non-rice crops in the short fallow period of about 70 days , after the T.

Potential crops identified for planting during this period are potato, legume vegetables, and mustard. Approximately 0. In flood prone areas, farmers practice various farming systems that include wheat, potato, mustard and other rabi crops in their farms. The yield is low. However, it is higher at research stations where up-to-date management practices are followed. The application of modern technologies at farm level would undoubtedly increase productivity to a greater extent Table 2.

Table 2. Changes in Cropping Systems in Bangladesh and Yields. Rice planted in similar regions during the dry season is called " boro ". Modern varieties gave almost 2. With the rapid expansion of irrigation facilities, boro increased to 52 per cent of the cultivated land by As the area under it grew, the land allocated for most dry season crops, particularly pulses and oilseeds declined substantially Hossain, et.

A major cropping pattern in flood prone areas was mixed aus aman relayed with pulses or oilseeds or a double-cropped aus-aman Table 3. These have almost disappeared in favor of the single cropped boro. Table 3. Inundated lands cover about 4. In such terrain, no other non-rice crop except jute can be grown during mid-April to mid-October kharif season. Various flood control measures implemented in Bangladesh have brought positive results. They have, in many places, created a favorable environment for agriculture, particularly for the cultivation of dry season rice and other crops.

Large acreages, previously devoted to a single, deepwater winter crop such as Lathyrus , field pea, and local varieties of boro or left fallow, are now cropped with high yielding varieties HYV of winter rice and other suitable crops.

This has produced a tremendous impact on self-sufficiency in cereals and also on the rural economy by creating new employment and agro-business opportunities in Bangladesh. Although the availability of land for agriculture has been declining, its productivity has increased due to the rapid expansion of irrigation facilities and the adoption of modern rice varieties during the dry season. The area under local varieties, on the other hand, has declined substantially over time, as farmers grow the former during the dry season and leave the land fallow during the wet season.

Nearly 46 per cent of the land was under this system in , and this has reduced cropping intensity. A major change in livelihood as a result of these farming innovations is the declining dependence of poor households on the agricultural labor market. The number of agricultural workers has almost halved over the period, due to rising employment opportunities in the non-farm rural sector.

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This has resulted in a rapid adoption of agricultural mechanization in land preparation and a higher incidence of tenancy. Although the yield increase for individual crops has been moderate, that for rice has been substantial because of the switch from planting low-yielding aus and deepwater aman to high yielding boro. Such productivity growth has, however, not been translated into higher farm incomes because of the much slower rise in paddy prices compared to those for workers and fertilizer.

The nominal wage rate is almost at par with the consumer price index, but because of the sluggish increase in the nominal price of paddy, the entitlement of staple food for land-poor households has improved markedly. Rice, however, constitutes a tiny share of household income because of the very small size of farms and the unfavorable price of the commodity. Per capita income rose by 3 to 4 per cent per year due largely to rapidly expanding incomes from non-agricultural sources such as trade and business, transport operations, services and remittance from abroad.

The transformation from a farm to a non-farm rural economy has been facilitated by improvements in human capital and the development of rural infrastructure, particularly roads. The rapid advancement of the non-agricultural sector has alleviated overall poverty, although in absolute terms, its level remains very high. The improvement is more pronounced for households who derive their incomes from services and trade and only marginal for farmers and day laborers. In , more than 60 per cent of the population was dependent on agriculture; 36 per cent working on their own farms and 24 per cent as paid labor in other farms.

Very few were engaged in fishing or livestock production as their principal occupation. This dependence has however dropped to a large extent over the period, as rural off-farm activities grew in importance. In , 51 per cent of workers were employed in the non-agricultural sector, i. The number of farmers remained almost the same, but that of agricultural wage laborers had declined noticeably from 24 per cent in to 13 per cent in Table 4.

It indicates that the migration from rural to urban centers is most pronounced among land-poor groups who were initially employed as agricultural wage laborers, but have increasingly sought work in the service and trading sectors. The mobility of the labor force out of agriculture was facilitated by improvements in rural roads and human capital, and technological progress in rice cultivation that generated employment opportunities in trade, transport and marketing of agricultural inputs and the disposal of marketable surplus.

As a result, labor scarcity is emerging and it caused a greater use of piece-rated contracts for conducting specific agricultural operations transplanting, weeding and harvesting. This change had a positive impact on daily wage earnings. Table 4. Distribution of Working Members by Occupation Per cent.

Progress in rice technology can only make a limited contribution towards increasing household income. The role of research to enhance rice production should focus on increasing supplies and reducing its unit production cost so that its price can be maintained at affordable levels for both the rural and urban poor. Since a large proportion of land in flood-prone countries remains single cropped, options to introduce double cropping should be explored by developing shorter duration and cold tolerant aman and boro varieties. Flood control structures have, on the other hand, disturbed traditional farming systems Sultana, et.

They have thus a negative effect on soil properties Alexander, Traditional flood-prone, low-lying areas that housed milk-sheds, were sources of open water fishery, and give employment to fishermen and milk processors were replaced by rice and other high value crops. Grazing areas and those that grew lathyrus as a major forage and pulse crop were also taken over. This has greatly reduced the cattle population and availability of milk and cow dung , a traditional source of organic manure and fuel in Bangladesh. Flood-control structures and the use of chemicals in rice cultivation have also significantly reduced fish availability.

The indigenous population has, over time, developed unique farming systems and other mechanisms to accommodate floods. In fact, farmers often do not perceive themselves as suffering from their occurrence, and annual inundation to a certain depth has became part and parcel of daily living. Houses are built on elevated land, crops and cropping systems are adjusted and transportation fits in with the flooding pattern. Culture and agriculture are subjected to the dictates of floods and the human demand for food. Basically, two strategic options exist to improve the productivity of areas that enjoy flood protection Brammer, One, is the engineering approach where embankments, dykes, sluices, etc.

Another would be to combine the two and this would give a wider choice to farmers. Post-monsoon drainage is the most critical factor governing crop productivity in the northeast region of Bangladesh. If excess water can be drained out by January each year, transplanting with day old seedlings can be completed. Thus, a day rice crop yielding tons per hectare of paddy can be harvested by the end of April.

This minimizes the danger of crop damage by flash floods and ensures a safe harvest. More higher yielding, cold tolerant varieties that mature early are needed for these areas. This can be achieved by research on appropriate breeding processes that help to reduce the rice growing period.

Crop damage by flash floods can be minimized by the construction of proper submersible embankments, with adequate provisions made for drainage and navigation. However, the responsibility for operating and maintaining them can be transferred to farmer groups in a planned manner.

Following this, they can then adopt appropriate technologies to improve the productivity of this area. Two basic development strategies can be adopted to increase agricultural production in flood-prone regions. The first is the provision of flood protection, and the other, is to improve crop production in a status quo environment. The latter is, on the whole, simple and less costly than the former. Modern technologies to overcome floods are only available for the boro season.

Their adoption is highest in the country However, none exists for deepwater rice that covers about 15 per cent of the net cultivable area. Major environmental concerns in rice cultivation relate to three factors, namely, a the heavy use of agrochemicals with its adverse effects on human health and water quality; b the erosion of biodiversity caused by the adoption of a few profitable modern varieties; and c the decline in soil fertility due to intensive rice monoculture Pingali, et.

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