A new start in Bangladesh
Joydebpur, Bangladesh – ICARDA has begun a new initiative aimed at improving the health and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in northern Bangladesh. Funded by Morocco’s Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) Foundation, the initiative’s goal is evident in its name: “Sustainable management of soil health to enhance yield and farmers’ incomes under resilient production system in Bangladesh, resulting in food and nutrition security, improved health and livelihoods.”
ICARDA is partnering up with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), the largest multi-crop research institute in the country, to carry out the project.
The project will apply appropriate fertilizer and scale up improved varieties of rice, onion, garlic, chili, wheat, and pulses as components of cropping system in six districts in northern Bangladesh. Adaptive research is a prime component of the initiative, as new technologies developed by BARI and ICARDA will be brought to the field.
“We expect this initiative to raise income and enhance household nutrition for smallholder farmers,” said Abul Kalam Azad, director general of BARI, during the launch of the project November 20 – 21. “It will also increase income and employment for rural women and young people.”
Additionally, the initiative will help reduce post-harvest losses and improve value chains; enhance quality-seed production with the establishment of “village seed hubs”; and develop the capacity of farmers, especially that of female farmers. Officials and scientists from government institutions and research centers at the event thanked the OCP Foundation for the funding and ICARDA for implementing the initiative to assist Bangladeshi farmers.
For three decades, Bangladesh has been a key partner to ICARDA, as ICARDA collaborated with various institutions under the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council. Many of the partners, such as BARI, are engaged in cropping systems and pulse improvement programs, developing several lentil and grass pea varieties for higher yields and enhanced nutrition. The lentil varieties, specifically, have had wide success among the farmers.
The partners are also working on biofortified lentils to fight hidden hunger, deficiency in essential micronutrients.