Can Bangladesh produce enough cereals to meet future demand?

J. Timsina*, J. Wolf, N. Guilpart, L.G.J. van Bussel, P. Grassini, J. van Wart, A. Hossain, H. Rashid, S. Islam, M.K. van Ittersum

*Corresponding author for this work

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23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bangladesh faces huge challenges in achieving food security due to its high population, diet changes, and limited room for expanding cropland and cropping intensity. The objective of this study is to assess the degree to which Bangladesh can be self-sufficient in terms of domestic maize, rice and wheat production by the years 2030 and 2050 by closing the existing gap (Yg) between yield potential (Yp) and actual farm yield (Ya), accounting for possible changes in cropland area. Yield potential and yield gaps were calculated for the three crops using well-validated crop models and site-specific weather, management and soil data, and upscaled to the whole country. We assessed potential grain production in the years 2030 and 2050 for six land use change scenarios (general decrease in arable land; declining ground water tables in the north; cropping of fallow areas in the south; effect of sea level rise; increased cropping intensity; and larger share of cash crops) and three levels of Yg closure (1: no yield increase; 2: Yg closure at a level equivalent to 50% (50% Yg closure); 3: Yg closure to a level of 85% of Yp (irrigated crops) and 80% of water-limited yield potential or Yw (rainfed crops) (full Yg closure)). In addition, changes in demand with low and high population growth rates, and substitution of rice by maize in future diets were also examined. Total aggregated demand of the three cereals (in milled rice equivalents) in 2030 and 2050, based on the UN median population variant, is projected to be 21 and 24% higher than in 2010. Current Yg represent 50% (irrigated rice), 48-63% (rainfed rice), 49% (irrigated wheat), 40% (rainfed wheat), 46% (irrigated maize), and 44% (rainfed maize) of their Yp or Yw. With 50% Yg closure and for various land use changes, self-sufficiency ratio will be >. 1 for rice in 2030 and about one in 2050 but well below one for maize and wheat in both 2030 and 2050. With full Yg closure, self-sufficiency ratios will be well above one for rice and all three cereals jointly but below one for maize and wheat for all scenarios, except for the scenario with drastic decrease in boro rice area to allow for area expansion for cash crops. Full Yg closure of all cereals is needed to compensate for area decreases and demand increases, and then even some maize and large amounts of wheat imports will be required to satisfy demand in future. The results of this analysis have important implications for Bangladesh and other countries with high population growth rate, shrinking arable land due to rapid urbanization, and highly vulnerable to climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume163
Early online date17 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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Keywords

  • Cropland area
  • Food security
  • Land use change scenarios
  • Self-sufficiency ratio
  • Yield gap
  • Yield potential

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