Pathways of Scaling Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Intensification in the Polders of Coastal Bangladesh
Lead Institution: Kansas State University
Award Amount: $749,999
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 sub-polder, which is about 600 hectares, 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. The project will also promote agricultural mechanization in collaboration with the SIIL Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC), especially mechanical harvesting of paddy by reaper.
Agricultural research projects are increasingly required to go beyond research outputs to generate positive impacts for farmers and farming communities. Thus, engaging networks of people that can catalyze learning across stakeholder groups has been tested as an approach to achieve this. This article deals with the complexities of human and ecological conditions which require a facilitator that can enable the group to implement learning activities and allow that learning to be shared across groups.