Unlocking the production potential of “polder communities” in coastal Bangladesh through improved resource use efficiency and diversified cropping systems
Lead Institution: Kansas State University
Award amount: $999,508
Focus country: Bangladesh
Summary: The coastal region of Southern Bangladesh is home to some of the world's poorest, most food-insecure, malnourished and socioeconomically-challenged people. Despite significant investment in the development of the region, extremely low farm productivity is a persistent obstacle for improving the food and nutrition security and livelihoods of about a million farming families. The goal of this project is to increase farm income and nutrition security by intensifying polder farming systems through implementation of sustainable and economically-viable practices. The main challenges encountered by polder communities for intensification of production systems are ineffective water management and inadequate drainage infrastructure. These have invariably resulted in the use of low-yielding traditional rice varieties and minimal dry-season crop production. This project aims to work with the farming community in a pilot subpolder, which is about 600 hetacres, to develop and adapt cropping-system options for sustainable intensification, together with improved drainage management. The project will build on past achievements and proactively work with ongoing programs. Specifically, the project will advocate improved high yielding and stress-tolerant rice varieties, including rice higher in zinc content, improve productivity of rice and fish cultivation and introduce high value dry-season crops to significantly increase farm income and improve household nutrition. New opportunities for income generation for farm women will also arise by introducing new management technologies and dry-season crops. Capacity building will involve training farming communities, extension workers and future agricultural scientists, and will mentor at least five local Ph.D. and 12 M.S. students. BRAC extension specialists, will lead the dissemination activities with key sustainable outputs generated from the project. The collaboration between K-State, IRRI, BRAC, Khulna University, two government departments and the farming community will enable the establishment of practical approaches for sustainable intensification in the polder ecosystem.