Subsistence Farming – Ganges River, India and Bangladesh

The Ganges river flows eastwards from the Himalayas through northern India and into Bangladesh. The mouth of the Ganges is in the Bay of Bengal. Much of India and Bangladesh are very poor and a lot of the farming that takes place is subsistence farming (growing crops for immediate friends and family).

The area around the Ganges is moist (especially during the monsoon sea), warm (over 20 degrees centigrade most of the time) and fairly fertile (alluvium from flood events). Because of the natural inputs growing can take place most of the year and fairly intensively. However, growing rice is very labour intensive, rice paddies need to be constructed to hold water, irrigation channels need to be dug, seedlings planted, weeds removed and rice harvested. Because most of paddies and plots of land are small, very little equipment is used. As well as humans animals like water buffalo are used. Traditions means that plots of land are divided up after death which makes the farms less productive as they get smaller.

To try and improve yields in areas like the Ganges River the so called green revolution started in the late 1960’s. The green revolution was an idea to introduce western plant varieties and farming techniques. The main change was the introduction of HYV crops which aimed to increase yields. The green revolution brought some successes and failures.

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