Monthly Archives: July 2015

Seminar on “Zero Hunger Challenges and Sustainable Development Goals: Harmonization with On-going Initiatives to Address Food Security, Hunger and Malnutrition”: Syeda Tasnim Jannat

A seminar on “Zero Hunger Challenges and Sustainable Development Goals: Harmonization with On-going Initiatives to Address Food Security, Hunger and Malnutrition” was held on 01 July 2015 at the BARC Auditorium, Farmgate, Dhaka. The seminar was jointly organized by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The key speaker of the seminar was Dr. Kostas G. Stamoulis, Director, Agricultural Development Economics Division, FAO Headquarter, Rome, Italy. Before joining FAO, Kostas was teaching Agricultural Economics at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is a Greek national, he has a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California Berkley. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Executive Chairman, BARC presented the welcome address. The seminar was introduced by Dr. Mike Robson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh. The designated discussants of the seminar were Dr. Mustafa K. Mujeri, Former Director General, BIDS and Dr. Sazzad Zahir, Executive Director, Economic Research Group (ERG). The eminent economists Dr. Mirza Azizul Islam, Former Adviser to the Government; Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Former Adviser to the Government and Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman, PKSF also discussed on the topic in the seminar as guests of honour. Dr. Shamsul Alam, Senior Member, General Economics Division (GED), Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh chaired the seminar. Dr. Kostas G. Stamoulis presented a seminar presentation on “Meeting International Hunger Targets: From Commitment to Action”. Dr. Kostas mentioned in his presentation that the number of undernourished people in the world in 2014-16 is 795 million and the number of undernourished people in developing countries is 780 million. He also mentioned that a decline by 167 million in the number of undernourished people was observed in the last 10 years. It was also revealed from his presentation that the highest number (281 million) of undernourished people live in South Asia followed by Sub Saharan Africa (220 million) and East Asia (145 million). He pointed out that MDG1 hunger target to halve the proportion of undernourished people between 1990 and 2015 was almost reached but the WFS goal to halve the number of undernourished people between 1990 and 2015 was missed. He also mentioned that 72 countries including Bangladesh achieved MDG1 hunger targets. Dr. Kostas mentioned in the summary of MDG1 hunger target that MDG 1c hunger target is within reach with additional efforts and MDG 1c target had already been reached in 63 countries. He also pointed out in that summary that the WFS goal will not be achieved and the WFS goal was achieved by only 25 countries. He also identified some key factors for success in reducing hunger which are rural markets, economic growth, family farming and social protection. In his presentation, it was also revealed that the poverty headcount ratio in Bangladesh was 24.5 in 2014. It was also found that in Bangladesh the number of undernourished people is 26.3 millions and the prevalence of undernourishment is 16.4% in 2014-16 and thus Bangladesh achieved the MDG1 target. Dr. Kostas observed some environmental components which enabled this success. The enabling environment for this great success comprises of high level commitments, policies, investments (financial and in capacity), governance and evidence-based decision making. Dr. Kostas listed the following points as way forward:
 Strengthen food production diversification
 Invest in public goods and services such as infrastructure
 Adapt to climate change is essential to sustain food production in a sustainable way
 Boost market-driven initiatives and community participation in Social Safety Net programmes
 Improve nutritional outcomes by strengthening the focus on program targeting
 Diversify diets while supporting local productions systems
 Enhance food safety practices; Formulate food safety regulations/standards
 Integrate FSN (Food Security and Nutrition) in all relevant policies and programmes including the new NFSNP-POA and CIP
 Strategic coordination of FSN related policies across sectors (MUCH)
 Integrate FSN, especially Nutrition in Sectoral policies and programmes (MUCH)

Role of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in Agricultural Extension of Bangladesh: Syeda Tasnim Jannat

 

The economy of Bangladesh depends chiefly on agriculture. The challenge of feeding the increasing population from the shrinking land and water resources is a great task. Many agencies are working to support the farmers to produce food materials and related products. A number of approaches are taken to provide farmers required information to support their farming operation. The agricultural system of Bangladesh has a long history of coping with the challenges. The system has experienced remarkable development over time. Inclusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) enhanced the capacity of the system to face the challenges. Agricultural technologies generated by Agricultural Research Institutes are now being disseminated to the farmers by the Agricultural Extension agencies. The use of ICT technologies for disseminating agricultural technologies has been proved to be useful for enhancement of production. The major ICT technologies for transferring scientific innovations are mobile phone and computer. It has been revealed through a survey of Katalyst in 2013 that the farmers seek the following information through the helpline of mobile phone.

  • 67% regarding pest management of crops
  • 2% regarding seed
  • 7% regarding fertilizer
  • 10% regarding cultivation technologies
  • 14% regarding other issues

The same survey revealed that 84% rural farmers use mobile phones, 67% farm families use more than one mobile phones and 73% farm families use more than one sims. By using ICT 7 lakh 45 thousand farm families were benefited and the average income increased BDT 10, 500 per family.

This article has been prepared on the basis of Round Table Conference/Workshop arranged by popular newspaper Prothom Alo held on 06 June 2015. The Round Table was the outcome of collaboration of the government of Bangladesh, Katalyst, Swisscontact, UKAID, SDC and DANIDA. Twelve distinguished persons participated in the important round table. Summary of the conference was published on 03 July, 2015 in Prothom Alo as a supplementary. I tried to capture the salient points of the discussion from the supplementary to share with the readers around the world. The participants of the conference were:

  1. Sheikh Hemayet Hossain, Director, Field Services Wing, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE)
  2. Mokbul Hossain, Project Director & Principal Scientific Officer, Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI)
  3. Md. Zahangir Alam, Deputy Director, Mass Communication, Agriculture Information Service (AIS)
  4. Jalal Hossain, Head of Business Strategy and Strategic Project, Banglalink
  5. Mohammad Muntasir Hossain, General Manager, VAAS & Digital Services, Grameen Phone
  6. Nujhat Jannatun Naim, Senior Executive, Infrastructure Business, Banglalink
  7. Kashfia Ahmed, CEO, Win Incorporate
  8. Sumaia Sadia Raihan, Lead Specialist, VAAS & Digital Services, Grameen Phone
  9. Remizius Remi, Head of Technical, Win Miyaki Ltd.
  10. Nafia Hussain, Manager, Katalyst
  11. Mohammad Sakib Khaled, Business Consultant, Katalyst
  12. Abdul Quiyum, Associate Editor, Prothom Alo

Following recommendations emerged from the discussion of the Round Table conference:

  • All concerned including mass media should work together to alert the farmers
  • The efficiency of farmers should be enhanced. All concerned including government, Telecom companies shpuld take responsibilities for the purpose.
  • Farmers should be provided standard information after careful selection and vetting
  • Farmers should be given such agricultural information which they can trust
  • All concerned should deeply contemplate on the best means/ways of communicating with the farmer.
  • There should be seals of the government on the supplied agricultural information.

The round table conference organized by Prothom Alo was a pioneering initiative. This initiative may inspire other media to come forward to explore various problems and prospects of agriculture sector. Our country and concerned people will invariably be benefited from such initiatives.