Farmers in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh must grow crops year-round to feed a population of 168 million in an area smaller than the state of Iowa. Water is plentiful during the monsoons, but how do farmers irrigate during the dry season? They pump water from underground aquifers, creating spaces in the water table that can be filled by rainwater from the next monsoon. Groundwater extraction that encourages a refilling of the water table relies on the type of hydrogeology unique to places like the Ganges River Basin in India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bangladesh. The success of “the Bengal Water Machine”—in existence for decades but verified through intensive groundwater monitoring data published recently in the journal Science —has implications for water recapture and food security in regions with similar environmental conditions.
Listen to researchers talk about the study in a fascinating podcast from October 7, 2022 on NPR’s “Science Friday.” https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/bangladesh-farms-water