A Resilient Innovation (2018)
Jacopo Pasotti is a freelance journalist, photographer and writer, specialising in environmental and social reporting from the field. His work presents innovative climate-smart agricultural solutions to decreasing land productivity, telling stories of resilient farmers coping with environmental change.
Forty percent of agricultural land in Bangladesh will be lost by 2080 due to sea level rise. Soil salinisation and changes to inland monsoon patterns which increase flooding mean deltaic communities feel squeezed between rising waters, watching their once productive agricultural land reducing year on year. One major innovation in response to these changes are floating vegetable gardens where crops are grown in beautiful, flourishing soilless platforms constructed of locally available materials.
Aquatic plants and straw are woven together to create a platform on which crops are planted. Leafy vegetables, okra, gourd, eggplant, pumpkin and onions thrive on the floating gardens. Out on the water, they are less vulnerable to pests and don't require chemical fertilizers. Each raft lasts around three months. Then, it's hauled ashore, broken down, and used to fertilize crops on land. Choosing the best hyacinths for building a floating garden is key to success. Instead of soil, the vegetables grow in water, using a hydroponic method. The raft system is extremely adaptable. When a flood comes, it will rise, when it retreats, the raft will follow. The approach is an adaptation to the increasing impacts of floods and tides. Some farmers are now teaching this method to others in the region.