Use of ICTs in the Agriculture of Bangladesh

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The history of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) use in the Agriculture of Bangladesh is not so rich. In 2003, Support to ICT, task force program launched by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA BD). In Bangladesh, private sector operators are the main providers of ICTs (mobile phones, computers and internet, television channels, radio, and fixed-line telephony on a limited scale), whereas the state controls the fixed-line telephony and two national TV channels and 10 radio centers. The government also formulates and implements ICT policy.

The majority of Bangladeshi and international NGOs working with ICTs are now developing community information centers in the country to facilitate information transmittal to the rural people. Some NGOs partners with private organizations or local government include- Gonokendras of BRAC, D.NET-Pallitathaya Kendra, GP-Communication Information Center, RDA (Bogra), Dam (Gonokendra), Ghat-Rural ICT Center, YCMC (Youth Community Multimedia Center), RTC of Practical Action, Amader Gram of BEFS , BNNRC, Bangladesh Computer Council, AIS of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hridoye Mati o Manush by Channel–I and Coast Bangladesh etc.

Recognizing the role that information can play in improving the livelihoods of the poor, NGOs began to look at tele-centers as a means of information sharing. In Bangladesh, telecentre development has been spearheaded by Grameenphone, Amader Gram and the Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA). Later, BRAC (the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) set up community learning centers (Gono Kendra) throughout Bangladesh, and Grameenphone has set up a Community Information Centre (GPCIC) in each Upazilla (Thana). A D.Net project has stressed the importance of livelihoods content in local dialects and has developed a content compendium and tested the impact of this among villagers through Pallitathya Kendra (Rural Information Centers) in four districts in 2005.

While implementing, they found it most challenging to understand the problems related to Agricultural Information of rural people. Recently Agricultural Information Service has piloted 10 farmers community based Call Centers in rural areas. The Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working together to make agricultural market information available. Mobiles are increasingly being used in rural villages. Grameen’s Village Phone Project has helped expand the rural mobile base. There are presently more than 122,000 village cell phone women who have the potential to connect poor farmers to a market price information system.

Mobile phones an alternative for both data collection and dissemination. There is a great dissatisfaction with prices and market information, in particular among farmers.  80 % of farmers say they would go to some other market to sell if prices were better there, and almost 60 % say they would use mobile phones to get such information (Islam and Gronlund, 2007). The system provides full awareness of all parties of prevailing market prices. Another mobile operating company Banglalink launched a new e-service for the farmers ‘Banglalink Jigyasa 7676’ which will provide suggestions and answers to any queries related to agriculture, vegetables and fruit farming, poultry, livestock, fisheries etc. The service will give people with easy access to advice and solutions to agriculture-related problems. To avail the service a Banglalink customer needs to dial 7676, talk and get expert’s advice on the problem.

ICTs can improve the quality and availability of public and private services to the rural poor of the country. Benefits arise from reorientation of the service provision from the supply to the demand side, making it more responsive to the needs of the rural poor.

ICTs allow services to be delivered to a large number of people at low variable costs, with consequent efficiency gains in service provision.

ICTs increase the timely and transparent flow of information between service providers and the users. This strengthens the ability of service providers to swiftly respond to the needs of the rural poor and of service users to demand the services they need and to monitor service delivery.

Thanks a lot for reading.

Source: Unnayan Onneshan

 

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Issues and Challenges in Fisheries – Bangladesh

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Fisheries in Bangladesh are the principal source of animal protein and second dominating economic activities in the agriculture of Bangladesh. Required production and future demand is to be supplemented by improving culture practices and sustainable harvesting of natural stocks. The demand for all sources of fish food increases every year due to increase of population in the country. Scientists, fish farmers and fishers face various constraints and vulnerabilities as they are main triggers for technology generation, production enhancement and sustainable fisheries development.

Fund scarcity, irregular funding, lack of uniform service rules, limited opportunities for permission, etc., are on the constraining factors for dissatisfaction of scientists in harmonizing research. Low production, knowledge gaps, lack of dependable marketing information, disease hazards, low price, required inputs supports and uneducable technologies are major factors responsible for optimizing production. Therefore, the sector is to face serious challenges to keep pace with the production target with the demand in future. The challenges to the sector may be as follows:

  • Fisheries have to contribute, at least, to the present rate of supply in 2030, domestic income, export earning and employment.
  • Fisheries have to be instrumental to food security and poverty reduction of poor fishers in increasing pressure of population growth.
  • Production has to be raise and manage in hazardous condition with high cost inputs in complex land use policy.
  • The sector has to explore potentials of all resources to increase per unit production from culture fisheries, sustainable production and biodiversity conservation of capture fisheries, develop innovative technology for agriculture, improve market chain, value addition and diversified product development, etc.

Vulnerability_climate_change_bangladesh_image1Vulnerability to climate change:
Bangladesh in general is highly vulnerable to predicted climate changes that are already occurring and are expected to continue over the next century. Bangladesh is recognized worldwide as one of the most vulnerable to the impact of global warming and climate change. There is no study on the expected affect of climate change on fisheries in Bangladesh. However, it is apprehended that the vulnerability of fisheries dependent communities, particularly open and floodplain fishers will be high if the climate becomes more extreme. Climate change has both direct and indirect impacts in fish stock which are exploited commercially. It is evident that natural fish stock will be more resilient to climate impacts with significant food security consequences for certain populations. Climate changes directly effects on physiology and behavior of fish and alter growth, reproductive capacity, mortality and distribution.

Environmental_Vulnerability_bangladesh_image1Environmental Vulnerability:
Aquatic environment and its ecosystem quality in inland and coastal areas are closely connected with atmospheric and terrestrial systems, hence vulnerable to environmental variability increases. Being situated in the deltaic region of three major river systems- Ganges-Padma, Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Megna, Bangladesh is vulnerable to floods, droughts, hurricanes, cyclones and storm surges. Serious floods from the north and intense cyclone bring disaster regularly. The sector is likely to face serious vulnerability in terms of global warming, shifting rain fall pattern.

water_polution_bangladesh_image1Water Pollution:
Pollution of water habitat has become as one of the most crucial environmental problems of the century. Water pollution has many sources. The most pollutants of them are the city sewage, domestic and municipal wastage, industrial waste discharged, agriculture including commercial livestock and poultry farming waste, oil spill, etc. Domestic sewage contains a wide variety of dissolved and suspended impurities and caused significant technical problem to the watery animals and fishes. The effects of water pollution are devastating to fishes and other aquatic life. More seriously, the polluted water reduces the reproductive ability and regular growth pattern of fishes.

Loss_of_Fish_Biodiversity_Bangladesh_image1Loss of Fish Biodiversity:
The species composition in open-water has been out of balance because of disturbance to natural reproduction of the fish by overfishing and other natural and man made causes. During migratory journey to and from floodplains and return to the safe habitat fish face many obstacle and hazards, which seriously disturb reproduction and survival in the system. Physical loss, shrinkage and modification of habitats are major factors in depleting fish varieties. Thousands of physical structure constructed to control floods, cyclone and other natural calamities. Such structures resulted irreparable damages to fisheries diversities.

Siltation_and_Erosion_bangladesh_image1Siltation and Erosion:
In addition to human-induced degradation of aquatic habitats, siltation is also a problem for open-water fisheries. Siltation is a natural feature along the length of rivers and normally results in a gradation of particle size from lower order streams with the coarsest material to higher order streams with the finest. This natural sedimentation contributes to the development of many of the morphological features of rivers and floodplains. Siltation generally reduces the area and decreases water volume of waterways. Silt deposited in riverbeds results in loss of breeding grounds and disturbs migratory routes of valued carp and catfish. Further, siltation causes drainage problems and diminishes water refuge grounds for fish. Silting also results from low stream flow and erosion of floodplain sediments after rain and wind. Wind erosion occurs during the dry season.

Cross_boundary_issues_fish_bangladeshCross boundary issues:
Unauthorized fishing beyond the limit of own territory, quick dispersal of highly migratory species, oil spills, discharge of fossil fuel into the beyond limit of another sea; water pollution, etc., are the major concern of cross boundary issues. The issue causes vulnerability to deep sea fish stock and resources. Unauthorized fishing in the economic zone of Bay of Bengal and its dense areas are most common act of neighboring trawl fisheries. Not only they fish, they use explosive and charge bomb to frightened the population for forcing migration out of the own zone for safe fishing. Hilsa shad including other migratory species moved to the areas and become subject of unauthorized fishing. Oil spill and discharge of fossil fuel, raw sewage and garbage are causes most threatened to wild life and attribute to waterborne diseases. Such pollution does not respect the national boundaries.

technology_in_fisheries_bangladesh2Technology for new avenues:
The numbers of evolved packaged technologies are large and proved effective and potentials. Most of them are related to inland culture and capture fisheries. Technology necessary for marine fish breeding, culture, management and conservation are limited. Many of the evolved technologies are required modification and standardization suited to more challenging agro ecological zones for balancing the ecological niches. Research focusing fish-culture and management in closed floodplains under unfavorable environments, development of stress and extreme heat and cold tolerant varieties is essential. Scientists must determine variables responsible for yield gap at fish culturist level.

Source: BARC

 

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Vision for Fisheries Research in Bangladesh

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The BFRI (Bangladesh Fish Research Institute) as a public sector organization is mandated to conduct research and feedback to DoF with appropriate technological support. Public university and other members of NARS institutes also contribute in technology generation within the national mandates. The vision of BFRI is to become a Center of Excellence for fisheries research to generate technologies and management guidelines for all sub sectors. However, out of the research organization in terms of technology generation need to be matched with the NFP and government support.

Fish production has been estimated 53.64 million metric ton in 2030 in Bangladesh. It has been estimated based on the annual growth rate. Though the target is ambitious, but, is not impossible to achieve. Well considered strategies, improving management practices, effective targeted investment with right mix of policy and political commitment the potentials for the fisheries sector over the coming decades can be of very positive. Technology generation is a prime requisite and important for production support. Government support for the availability of inputs, credit, market facilities, infrastructures development are the instrumentals for the research and development. It is to be noted that research and development accomplished a great deal so far. With all the constraints, fish production had shown increase in recent past. However, the future is challenging and there is no scope for complacency both in research and in development.

Based on the production target in 2030 as a milestone fixing of research agenda with priority is essential. It is important to outline the program areas and activities, which will support to achieve the production targets projected. A meaningful vision should have emphasis on the following issues:

  1. Assessing the technological needs and reassessment of developed and existing technologies for variable agro ecological condition and social settings.
  2. Assessment of manpower, research facilities, institutional collaboration, fund requirement.
  3. Explore recent advances to frontier research in order to generate new technologies that will enable for fish production in adverse condition efficiently.
  4. Explore advance management practices of fisheries science to improve efficiency of resource use.

Many of the research conduct under collaboration of research and extension organizations and also with the international development partners. Through such collaboration, BFRI and NARS have developed linkages with WFC, DANIDA, DFID, IFAD, NORAD, IRRI, IWMI, IDRC, NACA, and other international research centers.

Collaborative and participatory research is important in introducing knowledge based fundamental research and technology generation. In collaborative and participatory research emphasis should given on development of improved genetic varieties of major pond fishes, resistance tolerance varieties to heat and cool sock, breeding and controlled propagation and culture-management of highly migratory riverine engendered species, mariculture of commercially important marine fin fishes and non conventional marine species. Such research, both short and long term is effective to modernization of the institute, as well, upgrading the skills of the scientists. The sub sector based visionary issues are outlined in the section below:

Vision for Aquaculture Research:
Develop sustainable, socially acceptable, economically viable and environment friendly technology to support the continued development of aquaculture as the key supplier of animal protein and opportunity for resource development.

Vision for Inland Capture Fisheries Research:
Generate most effective management tools, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable fishing technology combating environmental effect and comprehensive data and information necessary for guideline formulation.

Vision for Coastal Fisheries Research:
Develop sustainable coastal aquaculture technologies, guidelines for estuaries fishing methods and biodiversity conservation for coastal ecosystems.

Vision for Marine Fisheries Research:
Develop appropriate guidelines for sustainable marine fish harvest and technology for entrepreneurs for mariculture of commercial important species for sustainable fisheries management.

Source: BARC and BFRI

 

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Fisheries Technology in Bangladesh

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Pro poor Technologies:
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper has emphasized fisheries as a supplementary, but important element as a mission for pro-poor growth. Poor and vulnerable group may obtain the benefits of any technologies adjusting to the availability of their resources. However, a number of technologies developed by BFRI are specialized and pro-poor.

The notable technologies are; GIFT culture, Rajputi culture, cage culture, rice-fish culture, nursing of PL, carp nursery, etc. The noted technologies are suitable to adjust in the homestead ponds, seasonal ponds and seasonal floodplains and ponds and ditches of low water level. Poor and vulnerable community can harness the benefit of those technologies for family nutrition, household income thus to improve their livelihoods.

Research projects on various issues implemented in collaboration with WorldFish Center, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Forum (BFRF), Universities and NGOs. In partnership they successfully demonstrated the easy accessibility of technologies to poorer or poor and vulnerable group at low investment. The important technologies under this item are; Nursing of spawn to fish seed in small scale, Decentralized fish seed production in rice fields, Fingerling rearing in cages in culture condition of ponds, Shrimp PL rearing in closed cages and Fattening of mud crabs in coastal areas. All these technologies are easy to adopt and can provide employment opportunities for woman.

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Gender impact of fisheries:
Traditionally, Bangladeshi women are accustomed with the agricultural activities, especially at the post harvest stage of the production process. Fisheries have always been perceived a male dominated activities. It is not easy to involve Muslim women directly in fishing activities. Recent interventions on targeted women have shown that they can offer more to the sector if they involved properly in the activities. Destitute women and women of cast and ethnic group traditionally help their male partners in fishing management activities in the form of repairing of gears, crafts, fish basket making; shorting of fishes, fish drying and processing; and carrying to the shortened distances.

Participatory projects have been able to demonstrate that women can organize and operate fish culture activities in homestead ponds and ditches, fingerlings rearing in cages, shrimp fry rearing in net cages, crabs fattening in bamboo baskets and play key role in the project through enterprise development. Women enjoy equal rights of membership in group and contribute in decision making, help in management of sanctuaries, keeping watch on the fisheries to protect from poaching.

BFRI under its technology dissemination process trained women group on pond fish culture, pearl culture including other management aspects of aquaculture. Trained women have been able to insertion of nucleus in freshwater muscles for pearl culture in ponds. In some areas women successfully demonstrated their skills in small scale GIFT culture, silver barb culture, rice-fish culture in homestead ponds and small scale cage farming. Women are also involved in door to door fish Vandering locally.

Source: BARC and BFRI

 

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Zinc-enriched Rice variety, BRRI Dhan-62

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Bangladesh scientists have culminated in the release of the world’s first and new zinc-enriched rice variety, BRRI dhan-62, which could be cultivated in Aman season, has been released after a latest breakthrough in research in the field. It’s a short-duration high-yielding variety (HYV) of rice. The BRRI Dhan-62 is capable of fighting diarrhea and pneumonia-induced childhood deaths and stunting.

The scientific feat comes with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) breeders succeeding in biological fortification (bio-fortification) of the staple with one of the most vital micronutrients zinc. BRRI dhan-62 is not genetically modified rice. The variety has been developed by genetically crossing with local variety.

The BRRI breeders developed the hi-zinc rice with support from Harvest Plus, which is a global bio-fortification mission launched back in 2004 under the Washington-based global agro-science coordinating body Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Zinc, iron and vitamin-A are the three most vital micronutrients, deficiency of which hampers children’s natural growth and decrease their disease prevention capacity. In Bangladesh, over 40 percent children under five are stunted while an estimated 44 percent children of the same age group are at risk of zinc deficiency. Each kilogram of rice of BRRI dhan-62 contained 19 mg of zinc and 9 percent of protein which will ensure high nutrition and will play a significant role in prevention of diseases; Zinc also played a vital role in prevention of liver-related diseases.

BRRI dhan-62 can be harvested within 105 days. Of the rice varieties of Aman season, BRRI dhan-62 can be cultivated within a short period. The yield of BRRI dhan-62 is 4.2 tons per hectare of land. The size of rice is medium. The zinc-enriched rice variety also outpaced two of the country’s best performing Aman season early-mature varieties: Bina dhan-7 and Brri dhan-33. Crop duration from seed to seed is 110-120 days for Bina dhan-7 and Brri dhan-33 while Brri dhan-62 can be reaped in 100 to 105 days.

India lags behind as Bangladeshi breeders succeeded in developing two hi-zinc rice varieties- one for Aman season and the other for Boro. The Aman one got the National Seed Board (NSB) nod yesterday and as per the mandate of the international collaboration, the zinc-enriched rice variety is now expected to expand to Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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Sub-Sector Fisheries in Bangladesh

Fish Production in Bangladesh – Fisheries

During the last several years, fish production has been gradually increasing in Bangladesh. The annual growth rates of production indicate that inland aquaculture grew fastest, followed by the marine sector. On the other hand Inland capture fisheries are on a declining path. Inland aquaculture and Marine and Brackishwater sectors likely have the largest future potential for growth.

Culture Fisheries:
Culture fisheries included ponds, oxbow lakes, lakes, canals, borrowpits, paddy fields, seasonal water-bodies, natural depression, beels, etc. Construction of roads, embankments, development of irrigation systems separated floodplains from the continuous flowing and converted into seasonal culture fisheries through community based management practices when monsoon water drained in the dry season.

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Cage-culture and pen-culture in the irrigation systems and flowing rivers contribute large to the culture fisheries. With the decreasing of natural stock beel is successfully using for fish-culture, seasonally or perennially depending on the areas and habitats.

culture_fisheries_cage_image

Small water-bodies or homestead ponds are meant for family based fish rearing of quick growing species and supplementing in the diet of malnourished group. Culture fisheries are guided by a number of economically and socially viable technologies. The major technologies are carp poly-culture, rice-fish culture, cage-culture, pen-culture, rice-prawn culture, closed-beel culture, commercial carp seed culture, improved shrimp culture, shrimp-crop rotational culture, etc.

culture_fisheries_paddy_fields_image1

Average production from pond culture system recorded in the year 2007-’08 is about 3000 kg/ha against national average 986 kg/ha. Production from other cultivable water bodies is far below the national level. Major carps contribute highest in percent, nearly 22% of the total production. Though exotic, but well adjusted as pond fishes and contribute 13% in total production.

Capture Fisheries:
Rivers, tributaries, creeks, canals, baors (oxbow lakes), haors and floodplains which contain waters throughout the year are capture fisheries. Floodplains, wetlands or marshy lands areas flooded during the monsoon season and remain under water for a period of 4-6 months is also included in the capture fisheries. Capture fisheries is the major source of total production, which is estimated to represent 41% of the total inland catch. The main group is hilsa and second important group consists of the major carps. The rest are catfish, minor carps, snakeheads, shrimps and other small fishes. The inland capture fisheries are the major source of diverse livelihoods opportunities of the poor fishers.

capture_fisheries_river_image1

The capture fisheries of Bangladesh are under intense pressure of natural changes and social competition. It has declined in area and productivity. This cannot be reversed, but through improved management with the goal of stabilizing the resource and by allocating it for the use of the traditional fishing communities, then the capture fisheries can continue to be a source of income for a large number of the rural poor.

Brackish-water Fisheries:
Brackishwater also consider as closed culture based resources. Tidal ponds, salt pans, coastal floodplains, rice fields in the polders are included in the brackish-waters. The major product includes shrimps, white fishes, crabs, eels, etc. Shrimp are considered major commercial component of brackishwater fisheries. Shrimp sector (includes Penaeus, Metapeneaus sps. and Macrobrachium sp) is alone contributed 5.25% of the total fish production of 2.56 million mt of fish produced in 2007-2008. Bagda (Penaeus monodon) is major cultivable species. The other miscellaneous species of shrimps are chaka (P. indicus), harina (Metapenaeus monoceros) ) chama (M. brevicornes). Shrimp sector recognized internationally for its high quality shrimp produced using socially responsible and environmentally sustainable production methods.

shrimp_in_bangladesh_image1

Earlier brackishwater aquaculture was confined in some tidal floodplain areas in the southwest part of the country and exists in a very rudimentary form for decades. In the early seventies expansion of this sector started with the entrance in world export market. The increasing demand and steady rising prices of shrimp caused a silent revolution in the sector. The brackish-water aqua-farming spread over 217,877 ha till 2007-2008, distributed over several coastal districts in the country, quite common in Satkhira, Bagerhat, Khulna and Cox’sBazar.

Brackish-water_Fisheries_shrimp_in_bangladesh_image1

The increased demand of shrimp in the international market resulted in a strong position of shrimp culture in the country. However, it leads to certain conflicts of rights and interest between users and land owners. Intrusion of saline water by tidal bore, aila, and other natural hazards often caused devastating loss of shrimp industries. Recent banning on shrimp export to the EU countries results loss of this expanding industries. The imposition forced to maintain quality in management, harvesting, handling, carrying, preservation, and packaging to the HACCP standard. These issues must be addressed to secure the future of this sector.

Marine Fisheries:
Marine fisheries are an important source and contribute 19-20% in the total harvest. A total of 490 species of finfish belonging to 133 families have been observed in marine and coastal environment, of which 65–70 species are commercially important. Hilsa, jack, anchovy, etc., are the most important pelagic species. Bhetki / Koral (Lates calcarifer), mullet (Mugil sps) are found as most important members of marine-culture. Several species of milkfish (Chanos chanos) are also occurring in the sea. A number of crustaceans (shellfish) resources including 36 species of shrimp, 3 species of lobsters including other traditional and non-traditional fisheries, such as, cuttlefish, octopus, oysters and mussels, Turtles. The sector is mainly capture based. Among marine species, major contributors are Bomabay duck (Harpondon nehereus) 1.44%, Jew fish (poa, lambu, kaladatina, etc.) 1.32% in total catch of marine source.

marine_fisheries_bd_image1

A dynamic change takes place over the decades in fishing effort. This has been due to the introduction of industrial fishing boats, the mechanization of traditional boats and the increased numbers of people involved in the artisanal and shore based fishery. This development has largely gone on uncontrolled with no real management of the resource. There is no clear knowledge of how the sector is coping except anecdotal evidence that the fishery is in decline. The ownership of the resource has also increasingly moved out of the hands of the fishermen into the hands of the wealthy businessmen and traders. These issues need to be addressed to ensure a sustainable utilization and management of the resource.

marine_fisheries_bd_image2

Paucity of knowledge, experience and initiatives on mariculture kept the sector harvest-based rather than culture-based. Culture of sea weeds, mollusks, breeding and management of green turtle are some of the recent initiatives ventilates the scope of mariculture that needs extensive research for wider expansion. Recent study and observation suggested exploring the scope of mariculture surrounding the islands of St. Martin’s, Moheshkahli, Sonadia and other coast. Research on standing crops, breeding and seed production of sea bass (Lates clacarifer), mullets (Mugil sps.) widened the prospects of mariculture. Commercialization of Artemia, marine diatom, algae, rotifer production and pearl culture in marine mussels are emphasized and recommended in the study. A number of sea weeds; Hypnea, sp.,Caulerpa racemosa. Species of commercial and medicinal value are widely distributed in inter tidal and sub tidal water of St. Martin’s Islands. Demonstration of culture technology of seaweeds indicates its economic dimension through commencing seaweed cultivation.

Source: Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council

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