There will be no cultivable land in the country after 2050 if it continues to lose farmland at the existing rate, said Director General of the Department of Environment AKM Rafique Ahammed.
Farmland is declining at a rate of nearly 1% every year. "A draft of the national land use policy was prepared in 2001. I do not see its use," he said, adding that the land use policy should be updated.
At a workshop at the DoE on land use and degradation, Rafique also said the government has to address the land issues to attain sustainable development goals and eradicate poverty. The degradation of land has to be stopped.
"Globally, 25% of land has already lost the characteristics needed for farming. Every year 24 billion tonnes of soil turn infertile. By 2050, half of the earth will be degraded."
Speaking as the special guest, Ziaul Hasan, secretary of the environment, forest and climate change ministry, said Bangladesh had 9.15 million hectares of arable land in 1982-83, which fell to 8.02 million hectares by 2017-18.
Nearly 69,000 hectares of arable land in the country is lost to non-farming purposes every year.
Due to the rising population, land per person is declining, leading to a decrease in farmland, forest and swamp. That has been putting lives and livelihoods at risk, Ziaul said.
The destruction of farmland and forest is going on for urbanisation and industrialisation and to build roads and bridges, he added.
The chief guest of the programme, Md. Shahab Uddin, minister of environment, forest and climate change, said Bangladesh had committed to protecting biodiversity, building awareness about climate change and preventing desertification, drought and land degradation by signing the Rio convention, the first-ever legal convention on global climate change and biological diversity.
Bangladesh is losing arable land mainly because of the loss of soil nutrients, increasing soil acidity, erosion, salinity and waterlogging.
A process is on to evaluate the land degradation in Bangladesh, the minister said.
"We have sustainable land use technologies through which we can bring down land degradation to nil. Besides, investments on land to stop degradation will generate local employment and create opportunities for people to fight to survive, which in turn will ensure food security and sustainable development in future."