South-eastern Bangladesh is a densely populated region close to the sea. In recent decades, the large-scale expansion of shrimp farming has led to the disappearance of mangrove forests. This has made the area particularly vulnerable to severe weather and rising sea levels, and fishermen are catching less.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Solidaridad, and the University of Khulna are working with shrimp farmers to reintegrate mangroves into shrimp farming practice. Mangroves purify the water in culture ponds, provide protection from the sun, and their leaves provide food for the shrimp. This increases harvests and makes farmers less dependent on the use of expensive shrimp feed, pesticides, and fertilisers.
WUR is also collaborating with the University of Khulna and farmers on the development of small-scale technology for the production of fertiliser and paper from water hyacinth. This non-native, invasive plant clogs canals and rivers, and causes a significant problem for fish farming and other water users. In this project, this costly ecological problem is transformed into an opportunity for economic gain.
In this way, WUR is contributing to the restoration of coastal protection, food security, and economic resilience for world poverty alleviation.