Tag Archives: Bangladesh

First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh-A great breakthrough of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute

First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh

by Hans Braun, Pawan Singh, Ravi Singh, Shahidul Haque Khan, Velu Govindan / October 18, 2017

Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260 in the field. Photo: CIMMYT
Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260, the breeding line used to develop BARI Gom 33. Photo: CIMMYT

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CIMMYT) — As wheat farmers in Bangladesh struggle to recover from a 2016 outbreak of a mysterious disease called “wheat blast,” the country’s National Seed Board (NSB) released a new, high-yielding, blast-resistant wheat variety, according to a communication from the Wheat Research Centre (WRC) in Bangladesh.

Called “BARI Gom 33,” the variety was developed by WRC using a breeding line from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a Mexico-based organization that has collaborated with Bangladeshi research organizations for decades, according to Naresh C. Deb Barma, Director of WRC, who said the variety had passed extensive field and laboratory testing. “Gom” means “wheat grain” in Bangla, the Bengali language used in Bangladesh.

“This represents an incredibly rapid response to blast, which struck in a surprise outbreak on 15,000 hectares of wheat in southwestern Bangladesh just last year, devastating the crop and greatly affecting farmers’ food security and livelihoods, not to mention their confidence in sowing wheat,” Barma said.

Caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype triticum, wheat blast was first identified in Brazil in 1985 and has constrained wheat farming in South America for decades. Little is known about the genetics or interactions of the fungus with wheat or other hosts. Few resistant varieties have been released in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, the countries most affected by wheat blast.

The Bangladesh outbreak was its first appearance in South Asia, a region where rice-wheat cropping rotations cover 13 million hectares and over a billion inhabitants eat wheat as main staple.

Many blast fungal strains are impervious to fungicides, according to Pawan Singh, a CIMMYT wheat pathologist. “The Bangladesh variant is still sensitive to fungicides, but this may not last forever, so we’re rushing to develop and spread new, blast-resistant wheat varieties for South Asia,” Singh explained.

The urgent global response to blast received a big boost in June from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which funded an initial four-year research project to breed blast resistant wheat varieties and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which also provided grant to kick-start the work in South Asia. Led by CIMMYT, the initiative involves researchers from nearly a dozen institutions worldwide.

Chemical controls are costly and potentially harmful to human and environmental health, so protecting crops like wheat with inherent resistance is the smart alternative, but resistance must be genetically complex, combining several genes, to withstand new mutations of the pathogen over time.

Key partners in the new project are the agricultural research organizations of Bangladesh, including the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), and the Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agropecuaria y Forestal in Bolivia, which will assist with large-scale field experiments to select wheat lines under artificial and natural infections of wheat blast.

Other partners include national and provincial research organizations in India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as Kansas State University (KSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). The U.S. Agency for International Agricultural Development (USAID) has also supported efforts to kick-start blast control measures, partnerships and upscaling the breeding, testing and seed multiplication of new, high-yielding, disease resistant varieties through its Feed the Future project.

BARI Gom 33 was tested for resistance to wheat blast in field trials in Bolivia and Bangladesh and in greenhouse tests by the USDA-ARS laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. International partnerships are critical for a fast response to wheat blast, according to Hans-Joachim Braun, director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program.

“Worldwide, we’re in the middle of efforts that include blast surveillance and forecasting, studies on the pathogen’s genetics and biology, integrated disease management and seed systems, as well as raising awareness about the disease and training for researchers, extension workers, and farmers,” said Braun.

With over 160 million people, Bangladesh is among the world’s most densely populated countries. Wheat is Bangladesh’s second most important staple food, after rice. The country grows more than 1.3 million tons each year but consumes 4.5 million tons, meaning that imports whose costs exceed $0.7 billion each year comprise more than two-thirds of domestic wheat grain use.

WRC will produce tons of breeder’s seed of BARI Gom 33 each year. This will be used by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and diverse non-governmental organizations and private companies to produce certified seed for farmers.

“This year WRC will provide seed to BADC for multiplication and the Department of Agricultural Extension will establish on-farm demonstrations of the new variety in blast prone districts during 2017-18,” said Barma.

As an added benefit for the nutrition of wheat consuming households, BARI Gom 33 grain features 30 percent higher levels of zinc than conventional wheat. Zinc is a critical micronutrient missing in the diets of many of the poor throughout South Asia and whose lack particularly harms the health of pregnant women and children under 5 years old.

With funding from HarvestPlus and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition, CIMMYT is leading global efforts to breed biofortified wheat with better agronomic and nutritional quality traits. The wheat line used in BARI Gom 33 was developed at CIMMYT, Mexico, through traditional cross-breeding and shared with Bangladesh and other cooperators in South Asia through the Center’s International Wheat Improvement Network, which celebrates 50 years in 2018.

Stable window 1 and 2 (W1W2) funding from CGIAR enabled CIMMYT and partners to react quickly and screen breeding lines in Bolivia, as well as working with KSU to identify sources of wheat blast resistance. The following W1 funders have made wheat blast resistance breeding possible: Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, France, India, Japan, Korea, New Zeland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank. The following funders also contributed vital W2 funding: Australia, China, the United Kingdom (DFID) and USAID.

(This report has been taken from the website of CIMMYT,http://www.cimmyt.org for greater dissemination to inform and inspire all concerned.I specially congratulate the team of scientists for this great breakthrough.I also thank the funding agencies for their great contributions towards food and nutrition security.I heartily acknowledge the authors of the article,”First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh” who depicted the details of the breakthrough and published at http://www.cimmyt.org/first-blast-resistant-biofortified-wheat-variety-released-in-bangladesh)

Training Workshop on Training Need Assessment Regarding Foundation Training Course Curriculum Development for New NARS Scientists Held in National Agriculture Training Academy,Gazipur,Bangladesh:Dr. Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

A Training Workshop on Training Need Assessment Regarding Foundation Training Course Curriculum Development for New NARS Scientists was held in National Agriculture Training Academy(NATA) on 8 March 2017 with participants from all relevant organizations.The event was organized as a step for launching the Foundation Training for new scientists recruited in various research organizations under National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of Bangladesh.National Agriculture Training Academy(NATA) is a recently established organization under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) which evolved from Central Extension Resources Development Institute (CERDI) for imparting training to all categories of officers under the Ministry of Agriculture and allied agencies.It is located in the district of Gazipur in Bangladesh.

The event was implemented in two phases.In the first phase, inauguration was held under the chairmanship of Dr. Muhammad Math hurul Haque,Director General,National Agriculture Training Academy.Dr.Md.Jalal Uddin,Executive Chairman,Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council(BARC) graced the occasion as the chief guest.Munshi Mohammad Hedayetullah,Director(Administration),NATA presented the welcome speech and Mir Nurul Alam,Director(Training),NATA presented the keynote paper focusing on the background and progress of NATA in the journey of managing training activities for the officers of the Ministry of Agriculture and its allied agencies.In his speech as the chief guest Dr.Md.Jalal Uddin,Executive Chairman,BARC emphasized on imparting the Foundation Training to the new scientists of NARS so that they can enjoy the training experience and pledged to provide full support to achieve the goal.He inaugurated the event with a note of optimism. Dr. Muhammad Math hurul Haque,Director General,NATA in his speech as the chair person thanked the Ministry of Agriculture,Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council and NARS organizations for their continued support for implementing the foundation training of the new scientists and hoped that more efficient scientists will be created through the ongoing collaborative efforts of the concerned agencies.He also urged the participants to contribute their best to develop the curriculum of the Foundation Training so that the new scientists can face the challenges of coming years.The inaugural phase was anchored by S.M. Kaiser Sikder,Senior Assistant Director (Agriculture extension),NATA.

The second phase was facilitated by Professor Dr.Md.Abdul Momen Miah,Consultant,NATA and Mir Nurul Alam,Director(Training),NATA.Professor Dr.Md.Abdul Momen,Consultant,NATA initiated the activities with a presentation on Curriculum Development Process.Then five groups were formed and exercises were done for Training Need Assessment in several steps.Each activity was accompanied by a group discussion and an enthusiastic presentation.Finally the findings were discussed by the participants and facilitators for inclusion in the curriculum of the Foundation Training of the new scientists of NARS.
A brief closing session was held to wrap up the exciting and innovative exercises of the day and to thank all for their best contributions.It was hoped from the organizers and participants that new scientists of the modern time would be able to face the challenges of the future through the participatory curriculum of the Foundation Training.

Seminar on Improved Flower Cultivation Methods and Potentiality of Export Organized by Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh : Dr Syed Md Zainul Abedin

Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh organized a special seminar on Improved Flower Cultivation Methods and Potentiality of Export on 25 January,2017 at its head office located in Kawran Bazar,Dhaka.Dr. Farjana Nasrin Khan,Senior Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) presented the keynote paper at the seminar.A good number of stakeholders of the promising flower industry attended the seminar.The existing situation of flower industry and way forward were revealed in the seminar.

The seminar was initiated by the welcome address of Mr. Md Jahangir Hossain, Director (Policy and Planning),EPB. Mrs.Mafruha Sultana,Vice Chairman,EPB presented the inaugural speech and declared the seminar open.She elaborated the programmes of EPB regarding the export of flowers from Bangladesh and stated that all necessary measures would be taken to support export of flowers.

Dr. Farjana Nasrin Khan presented the keynote paper emphasizing all aspects of flower farming and export.She pointed out the prospects and constraints in connection with the production of quality flowers and their export.After her lively presentation
the floor was opened for discussion and question and answer session.Professor Dr. AFM Jamal Uddin of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University,Dr.Shah Md.Shaiful Islam of Shah nursery Jhenaidah,Kazi Liakat Ali of Root and Shoot,Mr.A K M Manirul Alam,Deputy Director(Fruit and Flower) of Horticulture Wing of Department of Agricultural Extension(DAE),Mr.Mohammad Quamaruzzaman,Senior Assistant Secretary of Bangladesh Export Processing Zone (BEPZA),Ms.Kamrunnahar,Additional Deputy Director of Plant Quarantine Wing of DAE and a number of other participants joined in the open discussion and presented very important points for successful management of flower production and export.
Mr.Avijit Chowdhury,Director General-1,Export Promotion Bureau concluded the seminar with optimism and thanked the keynote presenter and participants for their valuable contributions.

Mr.Md. Jakir Hossain,Deputy Director(Policy),EPB conducted the event.

The seminar was a milestone for the flower industry of Bangladesh.It may be reasonably hoped that the flowers grown by Bangladeshi farmers will soon bring recognition for Bangladesh in the foreign countries and strengthen the economy of Bangladesh.

Concluding Session of the First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience held in Dhaka Bangladesh on 19 December 2016

The First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience was organized in Dhaka,Bangladesh during 17-19 December,2016.The first ever event on such important issue was organized by International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University Bangladesh (IUB), and Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), Bangladesh.The three day long activity was held in the Spectra Convention Centre with participation of large number of experts from relevant disciplines.The First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience succeeded to engage participants and different stakeholders from different government, private sectors, NGOs,Donors,INGOs, academics and communities to come up with more sound solution under the context of urban development.
I am adding the video of the concluding session of the three day event which summarized the findings of the event and announced the way forward.

The First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience 2016 held in Dhaka, Bangladesh: Dr.Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

The First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience was organized in Dhaka,Bangladesh during 17-19 December,2016.The first ever event on such important issue was organized by International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University Bangladesh (IUB), and Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), Bangladesh.The three day long activity was held in the Spectra Convention Centre with participation of large number of experts from relevant disciplines.The First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience succeeded to engage participants and different stakeholders from different government, private sectors, NGOs,Donors,INGOs, academics and communities to come up with more sound solution under the context of urban development.

The inaugural session was opened by keynote speaker Mr. John I. Carruthers, Director of Sustainable Urban Planning Program at George Washington University,USA. Mr. Carruthers expressed his concern that planning is not just about perspective or autocracy, but rather the choice we have as a society to find solutions, by weighing cost and benefit, for people with greater needs. The opening session also saw the likes of Honourable Vice Chancellor of IUB Professor Omar Rahman who emphasized his concerns for family planning as an integral part of resilience in the urban context. Dr. Saleemul Huq concluded the inaugural by saying that this would be the first of many urban conferences to come, where visionaries can establish ideas and knowledge to better understand the importance of better understanding urban development.

The first plenary session was hosted by Concern Worldwide with the goal to have a discourse with Honourable Mayors, Members of Parliament and Urban stakeholders to have an open discourse on how to implement SDGs better in the greater urban context.

The plenary session was followed by three parallel sessions. UNDP hosted the session on Ensuring Climate Vulnerability Assessments that influence Policy and Practice, Care Bangladesh hosted “Inclusive approach to urban resilience in Bangladesh” and Habitat for Humanity hosted the topic on “Building resilience in Urban Slum Settlements”.

It was interesting to see dialogue amongst stakeholders and participants, the keys points from these sessions were to have a more transparent dialogue between stakeholders, government officials and development workers and how to move forward from the current status quo for a more better and resilient urban cities for the betterment of people.
The second plenary session of Conference was hosted by ACCCRN-ICCCCAD. The main initiative behind this session was to Introduce ACCCRN and engages peoples in ACCCRN network. The country director of ACCCARN Sarder Shafiqul Alam represented the ACCCRN activaties and the point of engagements and the potentiality of this network. He also mentioned that this network is currently having 100 members in Bangladesh.

Dr. Saleemul Huq,Director of ICCCAD announced that the network has just started its journey in Bangladesh and with the hope to take the urban practitioners and experts under one platform and disseminate their knowledge to the policy makers and interested private sector.

The second day of the First Annual National Conference on Urban Resilience started of with the third plenary session on Participatory Vulnerability Assessment organized by ICCCAD-IUB. The session’s keynote speaker Mr. Terry Cannon of Institute of Development Studies, UK covered an interesting topic on participatory vulnerability assessment where Mr. Cannon challenged the term Resilience in the current status quo. He highlighted key aspects why perception of people in understanding resilience is important and asked people to question problems by asking the “whys” of any situation more vastly. The second part of the day started with three parallel sessions conducted by Practical Action Bangladesh, ACCNLDP Project and Save the Children.

Practical Action Bangladesh highlighted how untreated waste and improper use of resources can lead to high amount of waste generation and came up with different practical treatment process to tackle the waste problem in the urban context. Their development practice has supported 378k people where 58% are women. Transforming waste into wealth through green practices is one of the main focus areas they are using to promote resilience.

Save the Children hosted the topic of Building Resilience in a city. They urged that cities are lifelines of society and engines for economic growth. Going into the session they approached participants and stakeholders on how to reduce vulnerability. Currently they work with urban children who are using their concepts of survival in a concrete jungle to face Climate Change by becoming self-reliant. A K M Mamunur Rashid of UNDP climate change specialist highlighted the importance of communities to adapt and protect them from disaster related shocks.
The joint sessions of ACCNLDP Project, Planning Commission and GIZ has highlighted on the integration of local plan in national development on their session tilted as “Development Planning Needs Better Integration”. One of the panelists Dr. Khurshid Zabin Hossain Taufiq, Director of Urban Development Directorate (UDD) has discussed about the local planning practices from the government side.

The second part of the second day of the First Annual Urban Conference consisted of three productive parallel sessions. The sessions were conducted by United Nations Development Program, Care Bangladesh and ActionAid.

UNDP conducted a session on Creative Thinking for an Uncertain Urban Future tried to come up with solutions for the greater urban problems of infrastructure and services. Dr. Saiful Momen shared his idea of “adopting a canal” by any group of people so that they can take the responsibility of looking after it. Mousumi Pervin told her dream of a green home in a new silicon city. She sheds light onto 4 solutions that are decentralization of functions and responsibilities, efficient urban planning, improved city governance and coordination among the different service providers. Innovative ideas from the audience were creating cities that can produce its own food, dictated an idea of a self-resilience city. Lastly the session chair, Dr Saleemul Huq shared his view of not seeing rural urban migration as a problem and states his idea of creating a challenge fund for cities outside the capital city to offer incentive for migration to those other cities, as a reward. Apart from this he also calls upon the younger generation to take up the challenge of climate change issue in Bangladesh as a prospect to harness the skills of tackling it and be able to share that knowledge with other countries.

The second parallel session by Care Bangladesh of Universal Health Coverage: Resilient to Health Shock of Urban Low Income Population sought to answer and procure ideas on how to resolve health inequalities in Bangladesh. The key note speaker of this session Dr. Muhammod Abdus Sabur, Public Health Professional and Consultant, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare addressed the public on how resources should be used efficiently to generate more effective health services. The participants responded by saying that government hospitals should stay open for 24 hours to address the vulnerable communities and private hospitals should provide minimum 10 to 20% of its services to the poor.

The third parallel session was hosted by ActionAid with an amazing interactive session on how to make “safer city for women”. The session was chaired by Farah Kabir,Country Director, ActionAid. The session started off with the video showing what women require and lacks basic rights in the greater urban context. The video showed problems of basic services like transportation, proper street lights and public washrooms in our city areas. The audience suggested better public transportation, improvement of bus stands, more accessible public toilets to the panelist as prospective initiatives for the general population with the idea of making our society more women friendly. The session’s panelist respected Dr. Engr. Tariq Bin Yousuf, Superintending Engineer in Environment, Climate Change & Disaster Management Circle & Project Director of Urban Resilience Project, Dhaka North City Corporation ended the session with the promise to the audience about the city corporation’s initiatives to make the city safer integrated for women.

The last day of the First Annual Urban Conference kicked off with the topic “Financing the Sustainable Urban Development Agenda” hosted by BCAS. The topic’s main focus was to uphold clear and sustainable financing in the urban context. The session was chaired by Dr. Atiq Rahman,Executive Director, BCAS and the chief guest for this session was Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member, Planning Commission,Government of Bangladesh. The panelists answered the questions on how government sectors are planning the financial sectors to adopt environmental practices at the same time major areas regarding planning issues were discussed. Dr. Alam emphasized that development is a destructive creation and highlighted proper emphasizes to mitigate problems related to this is important. He also highlighted any project that costs more than the economic cost of a society should be banned. Some Crucial suggestions regarding Transparency of financial sectors were highlighted by panelist Catherine Cecil, Team Leader, PROKAS pressed that financial transparency on every sector is essential to have solvency and to help out urban poor. The morning plenary was followed by a tea break where participants had an opportunity to network between panelists and participants.
The second part of the day started with two parallel sessions. BRAC hosted “Realities of the Urban Poor” Tackling Challenges and Leveraging Opportunities”. This session gave scope for recognizing the gaps and needs of urban poor and discussed about comprehensive directions in formulating and selecting more effective interventions for more inclusiveness development. Tamzidul Islam from BRAC gave importance to social, economic and ecological sectors in the urban context. His solutions consisted of rental basis urban housing, public private partnership, and House loans for long term and with low interest, Introduce lad readjustment technique and establishing control over rent. Professor Ainun Nishat Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University highlighted “Resilience” as a buzzword and instead any development initiatives in the current status quo should revolve around the term “Transformative society.”

The second parallel session “Building Community Engagement to Enhance Urban Resilience.Host: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia”. ICLEI has developed a tool kit – ICLEI ACCCRN Process (IAP) which is being used by local governments to develop their own climate resilience strategy and protect themselves against impacts of climate change. ICLEI successfully promoted their tool kit to assess the cities vulnerability. One success story was shared by Md. Zulfikar Ali, Mayor, Mongla Port Municipality, Bangladesh. He shared with the participants about the success story of rainwater harvest implementation in his city. The session was conducted by Ms. Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Programme Coordinator (Sustainability Management), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia. The day’s session ended with a lunch networking session where the outcomes of the day’s findings were discussed.

Blue Mormon-An Elegant Butterfly of Bangladesh: Syeda Tasnim Jannat

I was walking along a country road of Gazipur recently on a holiday.
The road passed through dense vegetation comprising jackfruit,mango,jujube,Indian olive,tamarind,amloki,various citrus species, Sal ,Bajna,acacia and many domestic and wild plants.The area was a part of Sal forest and characterized by red soil.
While enjoying the lush green beauty of the landscape
I saw a large butterfly flying over my head.The butterfly soon settled on a leaf of Sal tree in front of me.It sat on the leaf and spread its wings.I was astonished to see the beauty of the elegant butterfly.Its wings were mixture of blue,black and white.I took my
Samsung mobile phone and captured its images.
I checked the images of the butterfly in the net and could identify it.It was Blue Mormon.Its scientific name is Papilio polymnestor.The butterfly species was declared as the State Butterfly of Maharashtra of India.Authorities of India has chosen
a really beautiful butterfly for one of its states.
Later,I saw Blue Mormon butterfly on Ixora and rose flowers.Its beauty enhanced with its presence on various flowers and foliage.

I also saw a number of photos of the butterfly in Flickr posted by some butterfly enthusiasts of Bangladesh.The photos showed the butterfly sipping nectar from Ixora flowers indicating its preference of the host plant.The butterfly was photographed from Dhaka and Barisal in the said photos.

Torben Bjorn Larsen cited the species in Butterflies of Bangladesh : An Annotated Checklist.He mentioned that he saw the species in Dhaka Botanical Garden,Jahangir Nagar University Campus,Savar and in Sylhet.

The occurrence of the elegant Blue Mormon in wide areas and in many locations of Bangladesh is a vital proof that it is a native species of our country.

Let us hail this elegant butterfly and enjoy its divine beauty.

I have posted some links of photographs and videos of Blue Mormon from Flickr and Youtube.They will help you identify the elegant butterfly in the environment.

Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor)

 

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.