Floating farms

The problem

Rising sea levels are increasing the salinity of water sources near the coastline of Bangladesh making it harder for farmers to grow their crops.  Growing conditions are already challenging as the clay soil becomes hard during the dry season (November to March) while prolonged rain during the monsoon (June to October) causes flooding. 

The region has many polders, large ponds created when building coastal embankments in the 1960s. These are using for fish farming and support the livelihoods of around 8 million people. They are suitable for a technology, known as aqua-geoponics, which offers an alternative means of production for people who cannot grow vegetables in fields because of salinity, water logging or lack of land. 

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Improve resilience through climate adaptive technology


Location: Satkhira, Jessore, south west Bangladesh
Number of beneficiaries: 70 households
Principal funders: Blue Gold Innovation Fund
Funding: £50,000

The aim of this project is to increase productivity of fish and vegetables in order to increase the incomes and nutritional security of poorer households and contribute to local economic development. 

Aqua-geoponics combines two existing technologies hydroponics (floating farms) and aquaculture (fish farming). These offer farmers an innovative way to generate income and provide enough food for their families.

Vegetables are planted in a floating tub attached to the top of a cage and fish are then farmed within the cage itself. The vegetable cultivation process purifies the water and waste provided by the fish supplies much-needed nutrients for the growth of the crops.  Both the crops and the fish selected are fast growing, meaning that up to three cycles of production can be completed each year. When the water rises, the cage rises too.

Why "aqua-geoponics"?

  • aqua = pond water
  • geo = mud/soil
  • ponics = cultivation

The impact on Suborna's family

Suborna and Mithun Sarkar live in the Jessore district of south west of Bangladesh. They have five sons (3 of whom are still studying) and a married daughter. They make a living by catching and selling fish from the nearby rivers and canals, earning around BDT 5,000 (£46) a month. They also work as day labourers in other people’s paddy fields.  Most people in their village earn their living in similar ways.

Although they own some land (a bit less than 1 acre) this has been under water for the last 2 years, making it impossible to grow crops. The water height rises during the monsoon making fishing riskier because of the depth of the water.

Their house was damaged by floodwater this year and their fishing nets are often torn by the force of the water and the plants and debris in it.  As most of the paddy fields in the area are also under water, they cannot supplement their income through daily labour.

Suborna has built and stocked one cage with Practical Action's support. Her fish are growing well and she expects to earn at least BDT 5,000 (£45.6) from the harvest.  The vegetables she grows will provide a healthy addition to the family diet. Next year she hopes to build more cages and increase her income further.

Look how far your money can go

The cages will still float no matter the rise of water. So, we won’t have to sit idle during rainy season and can provide income for my family..” – Suborna, Jessore, Bangladesh 


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Fish and vegetables: a winning combination

Chandana Mondol is 25 and is married with a five year old daughter. Her husband Debashish is a fisherman and they live in the Jessore district of Bangladesh. The village is badly affected by the flooding every year. In last two years villagers were only able to cultivate 27 of the 1500 ava...

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