Sustainability of Agriculture in an Urbanizing Environment
This study has examined the sustainability of agriculture and physical environmental (land and soil) quality degradation in 21 villages selected from the rural-urban fringe of Dhaka City, Bangladesh. Based on village-level land use/land cover change and household socio-economic data collected through direct field research, the study reveals that in between 1985 and 2005, rapid expansion of Dhaka City has threatened the sustainability of agriculture in villages under study. Loss, conversion and sterilization of farmland for present and future urban uses, changes in cropping patterns and growing practice of part-time farming are common in all sample villages. Decline in cropping intensity and farm income in villages close to Dhaka city and relocation of high intensive cultivation in villages away from the city’s edge are other impacts of urbanization in the area. Urbanization and intensive cultivation of farmland over a long period of time has significantly degraded the soil and land qualities in the study villages. While physical and chemical properties of soils have changed, their productive capabilities have also declined. Farmers’ attitude toward urbanization and the sustainability of agriculture in the study area are mixed and reflected their perception based upon their past experiences. Urbanization has improved the cultural and social conditions of the farmers living in the areas. Most farmers are now practicing part-time farming while working in the urban areas and non-farm work. While the sustainability of field crop dominant agriculture is in question under the growing urban land use competitions, the emergence of land saver capital intensive dairy and poultry farming adds a new dimension of economic sustainability of agriculture in this urbanizing environment.
Keywords: Bangladesh, Urbanization, Environmental Sustainability, Sustainability of Agriculture
Prof. Dr. Abu M. Shajaat Ali
Professor of Geography, Department of Social Sciences, University of Texas