The Mandal family lives on a half-hectare farm in the Sundarbans and uses integrated methods to ensure survival. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS
SUNDARBANS, India– When the gentle clucking grows louder, 50-year-old Sukomal Mandal calls out to his wife, who is busy grinding ingredients for a fish curry. She gets up to thrust leafy green stalks through the netting of a coop and two-dozen shiny hens rush forward for lunch.
In the Sundarbans, where the sea is slowly swallowing up the land, Mandal’s half-hectare farm is an oasis of prosperity.
The elderly couple resides in the Biswanathpur village located in what has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site: a massive tidal mangrove forest covering some 10,000 km in the vast Bay of Bengal delta, stretching between India and Bangladesh.
In this scenic biodiversity hotspot, there is no longer any doubt about the impact of sea-level rise prompted by global warming – studies show that the region lost some 5.5 square km per year between 2001 and 2009, compared to four square km annually over the previous four decades.