Friday, 24 February 2017

Nutritional Awareness- exploring entry points

With more than 70 percent of the cereal based diet with a small proportion of protein and micronutrient, undernutrition is a serious challenge in Bangladesh. 

In the polders of coastal Bangladesh, the situation exacerbates further with a significant part of the population which doesn’t have sufficient food to eat throughout the year. More than food access, the nutritional security depends on awareness about the nutrition-rich farming system and dietary diversity.

With support from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and HarvestPlus, the SIIL-Polder project is working with the community on a nutrient-inclusive production system. Being staple food, the cultivation of rice with high nutrition can help to address the health issue especially improving the immune system and reduce stunting in the children. The project has introduced BRRI dhan 62 and 72 rice varieties in the region which not only will increase the land productivity but will also add micronutrient (Zn) in the diet. 

To create the knowledge hub on nutrition, the project has started the awareness training at the primary school in each village. As many studies indicated that increasing in mothers’ knowledge on nutrition may contribute significantly to the family especially child's nutritional status, the project has engaged mother of primary school children in these training and awareness campaign. These training events are focused on creating awareness among mothers on the importance of micronutrient, high nutritious rice and benefits of biofortified rice to the health of children and mother. Three training events were organized involving 19 women teachers and 29 mothers of kindergarten students.

The project is also testing the model of engaging and increasing awareness among the women on nutrition at household level including farmer’s wife, sister, and mother. Training events were organized to discuss on consumption of nutritious rice and its impact on children, lactating and pregnant mothers. In last 6 months, the project has reached to 788 women including 187 direct beneficiaries who received seeds of climate resilient and nutritious high yielding rice varieties for aman season.

As women play a central role in the family especially on food diversity and they can be major players for carrying and sharing knowledge on nutrition with other family members and community.

By: Ratna Rokhsana and Shilpi 


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Translating research findings into information

While SIIL-Polder project is working with the community on innovations to unlock the production potentials, BRAC is taking the lead to relay the research findings to a large number of farmers. One of the common goals of BRAC Agriculture and Food Security Program and SIIL-Polder project is to support adoption of pragmatic farming approaches for efficient use of available natural resources for improving food security, human nutrition and livelihoods of rural polder communities in the coastal zone of Bangladesh.
BRAC organized a field day on Dec 8, 2016, to introduce and disseminate knowledge on the benefit of early transplantation of aman rice, the performance of climate resilient and nutritious rice and opportunity of introducing mechanization in polders.

The field day was organized in the Fultala village in Polder 30. A total of 124 participants including 61 women from farmer community, Department of Agricultural Extension, Local Government Institutions, and Development Organizations participated in the event. All participants were briefed on project goal and activities in the region. A field visit and hands-on training (on mechanical transplanter and reaper) were also arranged. The participants were quite impressed to see the performance of high yielding rice varieties especially opportunity of early harvesting with reaper. Keeping labor scarcity in mind, farmers were interested to know more about mechanization.

By: Shankar Biswas, BRAC

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Introducing mechanical harvesting of rice in polders of coastal Bangladesh

Agricultural mechanization in the coastal zone of Bangladesh is almost absent except the use of two-wheel tractor in land preparation. Undulated topography and waterlogging are considered the main barriers to mechanization. Farmers generally manually harvest their rice which not only quite expensive but also takes significant time before the field can be vacant. This reduces the opportunity to seed dry season crop on time.

In aman season in 2016, the SIIL-Polder project has demonstrated reaper for harvesting rice for the first time at 9 locations within the catchment area of Katakhali regulator in polder 30. The project provided hands-on training to 84 men and 65 women targeted towards developing entrepreneurship within the community. The participants and observers were highly impressed to see the performance reaper in harvesting rice. A few influential farmers especially the youths express their interest in buying reaper and making it as an alternate income source. However, farmers have still concerns on excess soil moisture and poor road networks in the coastal zone as some of the key barriers to adopting reaper.

By: Jayanta Bhattacharya; Ratna Rokhsana and Manoranjan Mondal