Increasing resilience of agriculture and aquaculture system’s in the south

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Bangladesh has a primarily agrarian economy. Agriculture is the single largest producing sector of the economy since it comprises about 18.6% (data released on November, 2010) of the country’s GDP and employs around 45% of the total labor force. The performance of this sector has an overwhelming impact on major macroeconomic objectives like employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security Agriculture is the single largest producing sector of economy since it comprises about 23 percent of the country’s GDP and employs around 60 percent of the total labour force. 60 percent of the farmers in the agriculture sector are tenant farmers, most of whom are landless and poor.

A plurality of Bangladeshis earns their living from agriculture. Although rice and jute are the primary crops, wheat is assuming greater importance. Tea is grown in the northeast. Because of Bangladesh’s fertile soil and normally ample water supply, rice can be grown and harvested three times a year in many areas. Due to a number of factors, Bangladesh’s labor-intensive agriculture has achieved steady increases in food grain production despite the often unfavorable weather conditions. These include better flood control and irrigation a generally more efficient use of fertilizers, and the establishment of better distribution and rural credit networks.

2. Objectives of workshop discussion as follows:

The discussion has focused on BRAC’s intervention in increasing resilience of agriculture and aquaculture systems in the south on agriculture issues to be strengthened for food security. Participants will be given the opportunity to share their experience, visions and planned actions to advance further the main objectives of the Advocacy. The workshop discussion also aims to contribute to the over all agriculture issue for sustainable development that promotes the integration of increasing our production into sustainable development strategies.

The main objectives of the workshop discussion were:

1. To contribute in achieving food security and reduction ofhunger and malnutrition through increased environmentally
2.  To identify further actions that will enhance the results obtained from the roundtable
3. To cultivate the highest ideals with like minded national & international  NGOs for health system strengthening. Specially focus in agriculture issue.
4. The workshop also has given priority how reduced poverty and stimulated economic growth among small-scale farmers in the northwest region of Bangladesh by promoting diversification to high-value cash crops. It promoted the use of new crops and cropping techniques through training, extension, and credit provided by a partnership between the government and NGOs, upgraded market information services and market infrastructure, improved use of market facilities by the private sector and a pilot credit line for post-harvest agribusiness activities.

Participants: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh, Agricultural experts, GO & N-GO, BRAC staffs and Journalist (Total 60: male  + female )

List  of Contents

Chief Guest: Mr Anwar Faruque, honourable director-general, seed wing and additional secretary, ministry of agriculture, Government of the people’s republic of Bangladesh

Special Guest: Krishibid Md. Abu Hanif Miah, Director General, Department of Agricultural Extension.

Dr Md. Kamal Uddin, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council ( BARC)

Welcome Speech: Snigdha Ali, Programme Head , Communications and Advocacy for Social Change, BRAC

Speech by Chair: Babar Kabir, Senior Director, BRAC

Key-note presented by: Dr. Md. Sirajul Islam
Program Head, Agriculture & Food Security Programme, BRAC

Open Discussions
Nurul Islam Bhuya, Former Director General, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute: Rice is our main crops. We can not ignore rice to ensure food security. We have to be given priority to produce Aush. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is still an agency that remains unheard of, by a vast number of small farmers or growers of agricultural produces.

Jafar Ullah, Professor, Bangladesh Agricultural University:  Experiences I want to tell farmers can motivate to produce sunflower. There are sunflower project in Sripur. It spreads all over the Bangladesh especially south area. It is also pointed out that production of Hybrid is very important in South area including Khulna.

Nitol Kumar Saha, AGM Hortex Foundation: We should remember that production can not only to be ensured the farmers live but also marketing is very important for the farmers. Moreover, input price-hikes have already left an adverse impact on agriculture. Poor and marginal farmers are found to incur losses by growing rice, jute, potato, vegetables, and spices like garlic and onion. The ministry of agriculture should look for ways for arranging liberal low-cost funds to set up storage facilities and help introduce community-based marketing and industries for processing farm products across the country to protect farmer’s interests. So we should follow right strategy about the marketing

Dr Monoranjan, Agricultural Expert: There is no rice production in south except Aman. Here, we have taken step to produce triple crops. However, we should also think cultivation of sunflower in short duration, because sunflower is one of the crops to grow high land. besides, It is time the government framed a well-thought-out agricultural policy to uphold the interest of farmers.
Farmers Opinion: Wasim Halder, Farmer from Bagerhat: In this period, we cultivated sunflower instead of another crops in local area. At first we have to face some unfavorable situation to grow sunflower. We are anxious, cultivation of sunflower to be profit or nonprofit. Really, it was out of my experience. However, there is no training of farmers nor is there any dissemination of know-how for better yields nor is there any credible info about marketing prospects  In this time, BRAC office  inform me the process of production and sunflower marketing. We also contact BRAC field officer and they guide me to grow sunflower. As BRAC office trained up, we are now growing sunflower and more earn money from sunflower.
Akib Uddin, Farmer from Bagerhat.

Water drainage system is one of the major problems in local area. In rainy season, water entered the land by different gates. Than all crops are covered by water and production are hampered. Another problem is that, agricultural production will suffer setbacks in the coming days if farmers continue to get falling prices of their produces in a situation where cost of production is on the rise.  This exactly happened this year when growers were seen dumping potatoes on the roads and streets in protest against extremely low prices of their produce. It is most important that how we can get actual price?

Focus Discussion:

Krishibid Md. Abu Hanif Miah, Director General, Department of Agricultural Extension: Greetings every one. Welcome to the workshop discussion on BRAC’s intervention in increasing resilience of agriculture and aquaculture system’s in the south it is a great pleasure to attend in this important workshop organized by BRAC.

Really, Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable in south area to the impact of climate change because it is a low-lying, flat country subject to both reverie flooding, salinity and sea level rise, and because a large portion of its population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The goal of this research was to examine the likely impacts of climate change on agriculture in Bangladesh, and develop recommendations to policymakers to help farmers adapt to the changes.

I also said Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is now providing double crops to single crops. Hybrid rice can be ensured our food security. Because this rice varieties yield about 15-20 percent more than even the best of the improved or high yielding bread varieties. However, High yield varieties of seed, application of fertilizer, and irrigation have increased yields, although these inputs also raise the cost of production and chiefly benefit the richer cultivators.

Awash plays a vital role in the livelihood of the people of Bangladesh. About 90 percent land in Bangladesh has produced awash. But it has no short division variety. We  produced Aush in 10 lakh Acore land last year. But seven thousand hector land is now fallen in the country. So we should to produce the fallen land. He advised that Hybrid variety is very important for Nogaon.

We also need focus discussion sunflowers are large flowers containing vast quantities of seeds, mounted on wide upward growing stalks that are a wonder plant architecture.All types are easy to cultivate as the seeds are not very difficult to collect, and as long as they are grown in a sunny spot, they grow magnificently. In general Sunflowers have blossoms composed of yellow, orange or red rays of petals fanning around disks with smaller yellow, brown, blue or purple petals. The wild Sun flower grows to be about 2 peds tall, while certain cultivated varieties will grow to reach 6 peds if properly supported. The solitary blossom is supported by a green stem that in some cases is only barred from being a trunk by the fact that it has no woody tendency. Bangladesh has good possibility to produce in south area.

Dr Md. Kamal Uddin, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council ( BARC) :  I am very happy to work with BRAC. I give special thanks to Mr Seraj for his nice presentation. This type of workshop may concern our people and learning agri-economy.

We have seen the last 12 months have seen some important events and actions regarding climate change both globally as well as in Bangladesh Looking forward at the national level, the world is now looking at Bangladesh as a pioneer in tackling climate change and we can indeed become an example for other countries. The positive aspect is that there is a very high degree of awareness of the climate change problem amongst all stakeholders

Besides, environment is polluted for rice, wheat, flour packaging. However, waste. packaging is a relatively new addition to the environmental considerations for packaging (see Packaging and labeling). It requires more analysis and documentation to look at the package design, choice of materials, processing, and life cycle. This is not just the vague “green movement” that many businesses and companies have been trying to include over the past years. Companies implementing these eco-friendly actions are reducing their carbon footprint, using more recycled materials, reusing more package components, etc. They often encourage suppliers, contract packagers, and distributors to do likewise. For example, researchers at the Agricultural Research Service are looking into using dairy-based films as an alternative to petroleum-based packaging.

We introduced that BRAC is working Aush, Aman, even Sunflower. But we should provide to produce jute. He added it is very awaful matter that the production of jute has decreased for lack of manpower. Example is that there is no production in Patuakhali, Kalapara for lack of manpower. There are 32 gates in Kalapara but those gates are open for cultivation of fish. So saline entered there and  productivity of jute is hampered.

It has also more challenges. Jute growers, more specifically marginal jute growers, are entangled in a complex web of interrelated problems, which have two major effects: Unfavourable market price and Production inefficiency (both lower productivity and higher cost). Consequently, jute growers remain poor as their income from jute is too low. I point out that calamity is the main causes for climate change.  However,  jute processing  is not possible for water crisis.

Jute also creates substantial employment for the poor. Cost of  labour in the cultivation of raw jute ranges from nearly 60-70% of total cost per acre; it is a labour intensive crop. When jute is rotated with other crops, it can improve the health of those other crops and reduce their risk of pest attack and disease infestation.  Jute gradually lost its market to synthetic substitutes, which are a lot cheaper than jute.

The market price per unit of synthetic goods in the short run is meager compared to jute goods because it excludes the environmental cost; synthetic goods degrade neither biologically nor chemically. As a result, social pollution arises, which should be considered as an environmental cost of producing and consuming synthetic goods.  Jute, which has versatile uses because of it physical and chemical properties such as high tensile strength, low extensibility, and better breath-ability, has immense environmental benefits and  also medicine value.

Farmers are losing interest in growing jute because of low profit. Previously jute was produced all over Bangladesh. Now jute production has bean steadily retreating to core areas where productivity is the highest. Withdrawing from jute cultivation has a detrimental effect on soil fertility. Intensive cultivation, combined with irresponsible use of fertilizer and pesticides, is causing severe nutritional imbalance of the soil in Bangladesh. But cultivation of jute in combination with other crops can restore soil fertility as jute adds vital nitrogen and organic matters in the soil. So, continuous reduction of jute production area is harmful for the long-term agricultural sustainability of the country. We must ensure higher profit form jute to stop the trend.

Thank you all for valuable comments. Again special thanks to BRAC for organized this type  of  workshop. BRAC may live long.
Mr Anwar Faruque, director-general, seed wing and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh: Special thanks to BRAC for working the south. Because once time south was called `Green of Bengal’. I think modern technology is adaptable for the south. But we can not proper utilize modern technology in this purpose.This is one of the main problems.

However, natural phenomena such as subsidence and earthquakes and stochastic events like cyclones & tidal surges affect the costal system in many ways, their effects have been exacerbated by human activities. Although this area is affected several reasons but I think environment or climate change is not main factor for effected the area. We should remember that climate change is a continuous matter by Nature. But we should concern how productivity increases in this area. I think Awash, Aman may increase our productivity in this area. Even, we should think production of Boro in South area. So, it is necessary to make master plan in south issue. We should remember that south is not only agri-based but also another crops may be produced in this area. Land condition is very important for Awash. Aman and Boro.

I have lamented that although the farmers provide the nation adequate food supplies, they do not get due prices for their produces. It is a real experience. He has been reported to have said the farmers’ experience is bound to leave a negative impact on agriculture. If farmers are not benefited by production of crops, I think it is useless.

I think, the government should increase subsidy on all agricultural inputs to reduce the cost of production. He has also called for setting aside adequate funds for agricultural research whose positive results must trickle down to the grassroots. We have observed that although farmers hold the key to food security in Bangladesh, they till their lands for crops without any guidelines. They simply pass their days awaiting an uncertain future after cultivation without knowing whether they are in wait for crops that will sustain their bare survival or a disaster or will enable them to recover their costs of production and get remunerative prices for their products.

Bangladesh is a deltaic country with total area of 147,570 kmThe major part (80%) of the country consists of alluvial sediments deposited by the rivers Again, the coastal areas of Bangladesh cover more than 30% of the cultivable lands of the country. About 53% of the coastal  areas are affected by salinity. The dominant crop grown in the saline areas is local transplanted Aman rice crop with low yields. The cropping patterns followed in the coastal areas are mainly Fallow-Fallow-Transplanted Aman rice. Salinity problem received very little attention in the past. It has become imperative to explore the possibilities of increasing potential of these (saline) lands for increased production of crops. Thus is necessary to have an appraisal of the present state of land areas affected by salinity.

Speech by Chair: Babar Kabir, Senior Director, BRAC: Services 60 percent of the farmers in the agriculture sector are tenant farmers, most of whom are landless and poor. Being the majority, the farmers are the key performers of our agriculture development; but lack of financial support for investment, scarcity of cultivable land and short of modern technology is the main impediment of farmer in the path of their socio-economic improvement. As concern, BRAC has designed in south area by engaging tenant farmers in the project and providing them loan and technical facility for increasing food production. This could fulfill the local food demand and reduce food dependency in the the world market.

Discrimination denies small-scale female farmers the same access men have to fertilizer, seeds, credit, membership in cooperatives and unions, and technical assistance. That deters potential productivity gains.

I would urge, BRAC produces high quality seeds of hybrid and inbred varieties of rice, maize and different vegetables on its own farms as well as through contract growers. A number of hybrid varieties have been sourced from other countries and have imported seeds which have a high potential and adaptability in Bangladesh’s climate.

BRAC pursues its unique value chain approach to procure the inputs of sunflower oil from the Southern parts of Bangladesh while other organizations are importing it from outside the country at a higher cost. The sunflower value chain approach is distinctively linked to crop intensification project (funded by European Union), one of the successful interventions of BRAC to restore the livelihood of victims of cyclones SIDR and Aila, which immensely affected the southern parts of Bangladesh.

During the implementation phase of the crop intensification project, BRAC supplied high value ‘Rabi’ crops seed including sunflower seed to the coastal belt farmers and they received astounding profitable return from the sunflower cultivation. Following the success, large numbers of farmers stated cultivating sunflower in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. BRAC arranged and supplied high quality sunflower seeds to the farmers through its seed enterprise and pursued with contract firming approach to bring the large sunflower produce in the market for further processing. BRAC’s effort in this sunflower value chain activity is undoubtedly exceptional and a milestone for others performing similar activities.

Besides I will suggests that we build systems of production distribution and marketing of crops at fair prices, conduct research to develop better varieties and practices for the agricultural sector, offer credit support to poor farmers, and promote the use of efficient farming techniques and proven technologies. Using environmentally sustainable practices, we are helping these countries become self sufficient in food production. I give special thanks for every one to join the workshop and conclude the event. Thank you all, again.

Discussion Summary:
Experts said, achieving food security and reduction of hunger and malnutrition through increased environmentally sustainable agriculture production in the country’s southern region. “Salinity, water logging, lack of proper irrigation facilities and natural disasters are hampering agriculture in the region, which is most vulnerable and lagging behind in agriculture than other parts of the country” Experts added

They also said “There are many lands lying uncultivated in the southern region. Those lands should be brought under cultivation. There is also a marketing problem as the farmers failed to sell their products due to proper marketing facility, which affected the growers”. They called for making more investment and bringing the South under modern agriculture. They stressed on coordination between the Agriculture and LGRD Ministries.

They opined for taking plan for boosting horticulture and shrimp and vegetable farming, converting single cropping area to double or triple cropping area to enhance food Security, introducing short-duration Hybrid rice to accommodate high-value non-rice crop in the popular rice-rice pattern and introduction of stress tolerant rice to combat the adverse effect of climate change. Upholding the interests of farmers, they underscored that   all should work together for enhancing agriculture in the region.

The programme was told that about 1.0 million rice land is severely affected by salinity in dry and flooding in wet season of coastal region of Bangladesh.  Farmers mostly grow low-yielding traditional rice in monsoon (Aman)season. Most of these lands remain fallow in the dry (Rabi/Boro) and pre-monsoon (Aush) seasons. The productivity is very low, much less than most of Bangladesh.

Recommendations:

•    Water resources management has to be solved in urgent basis.

•    Experts also stressed strengthening of GO-NGO partnership is necessary to develop in agriculture sector.

•    Have to farmers involvement effectively agriculture activities..

•    To ensure farmer’s market facilities to produce more production so that they encourage rice and other crops

•    The government should develop an appropriate mechanism to provide service distribution process should be prospered way

•    GDP growth in the current fiscal year might fall be low the decade average of 6 percent which was 6.03 percent in the last year because of falling agri sector. So, If we want to gradual GDP growth, we should be given priority to solve farmers problems

•    Loss of cultivable land, lack of invention, adoption and dissemination of new technology and lack of sufficient support for agricultural research and extension for gradual declination trend in agriculture sector growth.  So new technology has to be used among the farmers.

•    Expert’s states that entrepreneurs from agriculture sector had to face the challenge of cost food in production due to price hike of power because of government dependence on oil based rental power plants. So the government needs to priorities the development of power sector for providing a conductive-environment for investment and growth the economy.

•    BRAC is working successfully in south area  focus on agriculture. But It has also some challenges to implement the programme. Experts are strongly recommending that we should discuss the challenges issues.

Intensification of collaboration between Go-Ngo organizations has become an urgent need for cherished development and welfare of the people in general and the poor and distressed in agriculture issue. All participants discussed above the tropic. They advised to the government and given some recommendation for well implementing of Agriculture programme. This advice & recommendation helped the government to ensuring food security services including of farmers facilities. All of us irrespective of any particular government and non- government organization should feel how to take forward the nation through substantial and sustainable development of agriculture.

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