Tag Archives: DFID

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)

SHIREE (Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment)

The Economic Empowerment of the Poorest Programme(EEP)/SHIREE (Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment) is a very important programme being implemented in Bangladesh.I am taking the opportunity to introduce the programme on the basis of its website,http://www.shiree.org and contents given in the LinkedIn group.

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The Economic Empowerment of the Poorest (EEP)/shiree programme is a partnership between the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) under the Rural Development and Cooperative Division (RDCD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD) to lift 1 million people out of extreme poverty by 2015.

The shiree/EEP programme is worth over £71 million (around USD$110 million) across an 8 year period (2008-2015). The name SHIREE – the Bangla word for steps and an acronym for “Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment” – reflects the core approach of the programme which is to provide households with the support needed to start and to continue climbing out of extreme poverty.

Harewelle International Ltd and PMTC Bangladesh Ltd manage the Fund in consultation with consortium partners including the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Bath University, the British Council and Unnayan Shamannay. EEP/shiree is one in DFID’s portfolio of projects designed to reduce extreme poverty and vulnerability in Bangladesh.

The EEP/shiree programme currently has 36 projects with partner NGOs. The partnership encompasses specific economic empowerment sub projects under Scale and Innovation Funds but also a growing research and advocacy agenda.

Programme aim

The Economic Empowerment of the Poorest Programme(EEP)/SHIREE (Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment) aims to support the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

SHIREE funds a variety of programmes which together aim to enable over 1 million people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and achieve sustainable livelihoods by 2015. At the same time, the programme seeks to reduce the vulnerability of the extreme poor to natural disasters, economic shocks, social exclusion and undernutrition. Shiree is also committed to addressing the needs of extremely poor women, children, the elderly and ethnic minorities and marginalised groups.

In addition to supporting direct interventions, EEP/SHIREE supports high-quality research and disseminates lessons learned and key findings from the programme’s experience with the aim of transforming the way in which extreme poverty is approached by government, donors, NGOs and the public. It seeks to increase the knowledge base on the distinct experiences of extreme poverty in Bangladesh, and to raise awareness of extreme poverty in an international context..

EEP/SHIREE’s specific outputs are:

Output 1 – Scale Fund: Proven approaches to improving the livelihoods of the extreme poor taken to scale.

Output 2 – Innovation Fund: Innovative approaches to improve the livelihoods of the extreme poor tested, evaluated and successes ready for scaling up

Output 3 – Research and Lesson Learning: Increasing consistency in the understanding, sharing and application of approaches to addressing extreme poverty.

Output 4 – Advocacy: Policy and practice at local and national levels shows increasing recognition of the needs of the extreme poor.

Output 5 – Nutrition: Direct nutrition support integrated across Shiree Scale Fund. Innovative approaches to improve protein intake among key groups tested and evaluated.

Who will benefit

EEP/shiree aims to address the needs of the extreme poor; while there are varying definitions of extreme poverty, shiree beneficiary households fall well within the poorest 10% of the Bangladeshi population. This marginalized segment of the population includes households who are often affected by:

  • chronic malnutrition;
  • insecure employment;
  • lack of shelter;
  • landlessness;
  • limited or no assets;
  • little social or political capital;
  • limited ability to withstand shocks; and
  • poor access to health, education and other basic services.

Extreme poverty is a complex and dynamic phenomenon in which numerous social, cultural and health factors influence a household’s ability to lift itself out of poverty or to sustain positive gains. shiree is helping the poorest households who have failed to benefit from economic growth, social protection mechanisms and other development programmes. In particular the focus is on:

The extreme vulnerable poor who are economically active yet marginalised (e.g. fragmented female-headed households and socially excluded ethnic minorities).

The extreme dependent poor who are economically inactive and rely heavily or solely on charity or government safety nets (e.g. the disabled or elderly without family support).

Operational principles

An important goal of the EEP/shiree programme is to deliver the Challenge Fund as a consistent and fully integrated response to eradicating extreme poverty in Bangladesh, rather than a series of single or unrelated interventions. The team’s approach to realising this end is based on the following guiding principles:

  1. Excellence in programme planning and operational management
  2. A partnership relationship with implementing NGOs
  3. A demand driven approach – implying continuous engagement with beneficiary households
  4. Sustaining the focus on extreme poverty – not allowing programme drift
  5. Delivery of programme benefits to the poorest and most vulnerable areas of Bangladesh
  6. Continued focus on “Value for Money and Impact for Money”
  7. Integration of research and advocacy activities within the broad programme framework – drawing on implementation experience to ensure relevant research and advocacy outputs
  8. Fostering learning, creativity and innovation
  9. Zero-tolerance towards corruption based on principles of transparency, equity, competition and accountability
  10. Teamwork and a commitment to personal development

Where we work

SHIREE works in different geographic location of Bangladesh. The following map shows district-wise distribution of implementing NGOs.

Click on a shiree logo to see the name of the district and name of the NGOs working there. Click on the name of the NGO and you can visit the web site of the implementing NGO.

The short description also comes with beneficiary household (BHH) target by the project period.

The portfolio of SHIREE sub projects is concentrated in 5 distinct geographical regions that experience a high incidence of extreme poverty. These are:

  1. The Northwest (especially affected by seasonal hunger)
  2. The Southern coastal belt (most vulnerable to severe climatic shocks including cyclones)
  3. The Chittagong Hill Tracts
  4. The Northeast haor region
  5. Dhaka urban slums

View Working area of shiree in a larger map


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Shiree Team


Md Asadul IslamMd Asadul Islam, Project Director of SHIREE is speaking at Extreme Poverty Day

Md. Asadul Islam joined  EEP/Shiree as the Project Director in July 2010. He is a civil servant with a  background of working in field administration, Magistracy, Collectorate and in Ministries and Directorates. He obtained M.Sc. in Entomology (1st Class) from the University of Dhaka in 1978 (held in 1982) and MBA from Bangladesh Open University. He joined the Bangladesh Civil Service (Administration) through the Special BCS 1982 as a Magistrate. He stood 1st in the 46th Senior Staff Course in the BPATC. Prior to joining the EEP team, he was the Director of Administration in the Directorate of Relief & Rehabilitation. Throughout his career, he has contributed to a diverse number of projects and initiatives of the GoB in different capacities. His expertise is in the area of ICTs, resource mobilisation, natural disaster management and human resources management. He contributed to the launching of the Early Warning Cell Broadcasting System through Cell phones (a Disaster Management & Relief Division and A2I initiative of the GoB). He has mentored the MATT2 (Management at the Top-2) PIP Team thrice (a GoB and DFID initiative under the Ministry of Public Administration in Bangladesh). He has received  trainings on Regional Disaster Management from Bournemouth University, UK; Innovations in Capacity Building for Education and Development in the School of Policy, Planning and Development in the University of Southern California, Disaster management course in South Korea etc. He has visited UK, USA, Australia and other countries. Asadul Islam is also an active member of various academic, social and professional organizations including the ‘Dhaka University Registered Graduate Forum’, ‘Dhaka University Alumni Association’, ‘Dhaka University Zoologists Forum’, ‘West End 1971 Forum’, etc. He is blessed with a son Anharul Islam and a daughter Auruba Islam..


John WoolnerJohn Woolner (left) is distributing prize among the FOOTY award winners in 2011

John Woolner is the Chairman of Harewelle International Limited, incorporating PMTC International, PMTC (Bangladesh) Limited and ULG International Limited. John has experience working with local governance, community development, sustainable livelihoods, particularly focusing on small farmers, fisher folk, and women. This has covered all aspects of vocational training and institutional strengthening. Administration and management, the fundamentals for DFID interventions and John oversees the delivery of overseas project proposals, planning, design and evaluation, reporting, budgeting and financial control. John is also an avid bird watcher and nature lover.

Monjur HossainMonjur Hossain (left) is signing contract with Eco Dev.

Monjur Hossain is Managing Director of PMTC Bangladesh Limited. Following his earlier career as a senior in the Plantation Industry, Monjur has been involved in the development aid sector since the late 1990s and is a recognized professional in Project Management. He has been the Project Director for numerous projects with a wide-array of different donors including DFID, SDC, USAID, DANIDA and ADB.  As an Attorney of Harewelle, Monjur is a signatory in the execution of the accountable grant agreements between NGOs and EEP/shiree Programme and supports that programme in matters concerning HRM.


In 2010 SHIREE formed a Senior Management Team (SMT) to provide overall programme direction and oversight under the Chairmanship of CEO. The SMT meets regularly and has been successful in bringing a new coherence and drive to this large and complex programme.

Colin RisnerColin Risner, CEO of SHIREE is speaking at an EPRG meeting

Colin Risner joined shiree as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in May 2010.  He has prior experience of working in Bangladesh having been a team leader for a major DFID/World Bank funded project (ASSP/ASIRP) between 1997 and 2001, as well as undertaking a number of short term assignments. Colin started out as a lecturer in economics before joining a large UK local authority, transitioning into development work via a range of local government related assignments in the 1990s.  Since leaving Bangladesh in 2001 he has worked in 15 African and Asian countries on projects ranging from the macro and strategic (country programme reviews, donor harmonisation, public sector reform), to operational level interventions (community driven development, gender auditing and organisation development). Immediately prior to joining shiree, he spent 6 months establishing a civil society sector monitoring project in Ethiopia. Colin has a wide range of experience but his focus throughout has been on facilitating local ownership, exploring innovative approaches and helping teams to perform to their potential. Principles that he is building on in shiree. He has been based in Cornwall for the last 10 years and still harbours ambitions to become a passable surfer – although time is fast catching up with him!

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Shiree Organogramme as of March2013

Shiree Organogramme as of March 2013



Agriculture Sector Programme Support of DANIDA in Bangladesh(Based on the Website of Denmark in Bangladesh)

DANIDA is the term used for Denmark’s development cooperation, which is an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Denmark’s development policy aims to contribute to reducing global poverty and helping people to take charge of their own destinies. This is the overriding objective for which DANIDA works.

DANIDA has responsibility for the planning, implementation and quality assurance of development cooperation. There are local and posted staff at Danish embassies and missions abroad, who are responsible for the administration and management of development cooperation with the individual country




DANIDA facts

  • Denmark grants an annual approximately DKK 15 billion in development assistance.
  • Denmark is one of five countries in the world to live up to the UN’s recommendation to grant a minimum of 0.7 per cent GNI in development assistance.
  • Denmark has been granting development assistance since the end of the Second World War.

Agriculture Sector Programme Support

(This content is taken from the following link for further dissemination of the support and  activities of DANIDA in Agriculture Sector of Bangladesh:http://bangladesh.um.dk/en/danida-en/agriculture-sector-programme-support/)


The agricultural sector plays a very significant role in the Bangladesh economy, socially as well as culturally. The Sixth Fiver Plan emphasizes the role of agriculture in generating employment, alleviating poverty and fostering growth

Agriculture’s main role in poverty reduction lies in maintaining the supply of food at least at a rate at which the demand has been growing, thereby keeping the food prices stable and within affordable limits of low-income households. The impact of agricultural growth on rural wages is an important element in the process since a major share of income of the poor originates from wage labour in agricultural and related activities. A high agricultural growth creates opportunities for diversification of the rural economy and development of the rural non-farm sector with greater poverty-reduction impact.

Denmark and Bangladesh have a long history of bilateral cooperation in agriculture, fishery and livestock. Denmark’s strategy to support the agricultural sector in Bangladesh includes a strong poverty reduction focus, together with special emphasis on poorer women, nutrition, marketing and environment. Support is provided to technology generation and delivery of essential services nearer to the farmers’ door steps.

Denmark’s support to agricultural development in Bangladesh has consistently been channelled through the Government of Bangladesh. This approach has been advantageous since these interventions have been well anchored at national level and have significant impact on present policies and strategies. Denmark also aims at harmonising its development assistance with other donor funded programmes in the same sector and geographical areas.

The Danish support to the agriculture sector started in late 80s and in 90s with Mymensingh Aquacultural Extension Project (1989), Smallholder Livestock Development Project (1992), Integrated Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Management Project (1993), Integrated Pest Management Project (1997), Patuakhali Barguna Aquacultural Extension Project (1997), Participatory Livestock Development Project (1998), Greater Noakhali Aquacultural extension Project (1998). The support has been continuing through Agriculture Sector Programme Support Phase I (2000-2006 ) and Agriculture Sector Programme Support Phase II (2006-2012).

Denmark has pledged to support a new “Agricultural Growth and Employment Programme” (AGEP) from 2013 to 2017. The Agricultural Growth and Employment Programme will be in line with the priorities of the Government of Bangladesh as set out in the Country Investment Plan (CIP) and the Sixth Five Year Plan. In line with CIP and the Sixth Five Year Plan, Agricultural Growth and Employment Programme will focus, among others, on:

  • Integration of crops, fishery and livestock extension
  • Diversification of agricultural production with special focus on high value crops
  • Formation of producer/marketing groups at village level
  • Agro Business Development

AGEP will have two components, namely Integrated Farm Management Component (IFMC) and Agro Business Development Component (ABDC). The Integrated Farm Management Component (IFMC) will be implemented by the Department of Agricultural Extension under the Ministry of Agriculture.

IFMC will promote the concept of Integrated Farm Management through Farmers’ Field School.

The Agro Business Development Component will support the third phase of the multi donor (SDC, DFID and the Netherlands) basket fund Katalyst.


(The article has been prepared and published on the basis of the website of Denmark in Bangladesh :http://bangladesh.um.dk/en/ for further dissemination of the information of support and activities of Denmark and DANIDA.)