Floating Gardens

Farmer Ibrahim Sarder, 49, watering newly grown seedlings.
Farmer Ibrahim Sarder, 49, watering newly grown seedlings.

In the marshy region of Nazirpur Upazila, Pirojpur district, prolonged waterlogging has made traditional farming challenging for families. In response, many have turned to the age-old method of cultivating crops on floating rafts. A method that was invented two hundred years ago, passed down from their ancestors.

People transport floating beds towards a farm on the Belua River in Pirojpur district. Farmers buy each bed for BDT 7000–8000 (US$63–73).
People transport floating beds towards a farm on the Belua River in Pirojpur district. Farmers buy each bed for BDT 7000–8000 (US$63–73).

Farmers in this area have achieved remarkable success in seed production and growing agricultural products using this local technique in land that is otherwise submerged underwater. Not only that, this unique approach to cultivating crops and vegetables on water has been gradually gaining popularity.

Murshida Begum helping her husband Ibrahim Sarder to transport the seedballs to the floating cultivation rafts. Boats are their main vehicle for transportation.
Murshida Begum helping her husband Ibrahim Sarder to transport the seedballs to the floating cultivation rafts. Boats are their main vehicle for transportation.

In recent years, this innovative farming method has become a symbol of success for a densely populated country, where millions of people live below the poverty line. In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recognised floating vegetable farming as a globally important agricultural heritage system.

Murshida Begum, 36, has been assisting her husband in making seed balls. Prolonged exposure to water, water hyacinth, and aquatic plants during the process has led to various skin diseases.
Murshida Begum, 36, has been assisting her husband in making seed balls. Prolonged exposure to water, water hyacinth, and aquatic plants during the process has led to various skin diseases.
Tools farmers use for floating cultivation.
Tools farmers use for floating cultivation.

Bangladesh, being one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, faces rising water levels due to storms, floods, and river erosion. With increasingly unpredictable monsoons, floating agriculture has become even more essential. This agro-technique proves invaluable in combating food shortages caused by climate change. As the world’s largest delta with significant wetlands, adoption of this cultivation method in Bangladesh not only helps in adapting to climate change, but also mitigates its effects, such as rising sea levels.

Ibrahim Sarder gathers gourd seedlings from his floating farm bed to sell to agents.
Ibrahim Sarder gathers gourd seedlings from his floating farm bed to sell to agents.
An aerial view of floating gardens as farmers harvest in Pirojpur, Bangladesh.
An aerial view of floating gardens as farmers harvest in Pirojpur, Bangladesh.
Farmers bring their fresh produce and seedlings to the biweekly floating market on the Belua River to sell to agents.
Farmers bring their fresh produce and seedlings to the biweekly floating market on the Belua River to sell to agents.
Ibrahim Sarder feeding water to his beloved pet bird.
Ibrahim Sarder feeding water to his beloved pet bird.
Ibrahim Sarder transporting the grown seedlings to the market to sell. Each seedling is sold for BDT 4–5 (US$0.05–0.06).
Ibrahim Sarder transporting the grown seedlings to the market to sell. Each seedling is sold for BDT 4–5 (US$0.05–0.06).
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ArtIQulate is a publication associated with the Adenauer Fellowship, a scholarship programme by the Media Programme Asia, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Ltd.
About the author

Piyas Biswas

Piyas Biswas is a multimedia journalist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh with a special interest in documentary photography. Piyas began his photography career in 2016, working on photography assignments as a freelancer. He is currently working with Newsbangla24 and also a contributor to UCA News, The Daily Star, SOPA IMAGES, and Nur Photo. He completed his photography graduation from Counter Foto (A Centre for Visual Arts) in 2018, alongside his academic graduation. He is a recipient of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung scholarship and obtained his Diploma in Visual Journalism from the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

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