Friday, November 30, 2018

An idea for adaptation to climate changes in villages adjoining the Teesta River at Lalmonirhat district, Bangladesh

Article by the Author:
Published at PAR (Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research) on January 24th, 2011

River bank erosion is one of the common phenomenons in the northern part of Bangladesh, which includes Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Kurigram districts. The villagers, (whose life mainly depends on agriculture) living beside the Teesta river that runs through in Lalmonirhat district, are one of the direct victims of such disasters. Landless farmers are increasing day by day in this region and they are also facing regular floods, cold spells and drought. All these natural calamities are surprisingly changing their pattern in this region in respect of global climate change. It is estimated that global warming is openly responsible for grater melting of the Himalayan glaciers so that erosion of river banks and flooding are happening in uneven pattern in the recent decade in these districts. The populations of the adjoining of Teesta River are forced to have less cultivable lands and dropped to seasonal food crises each year, locally termed as ‘Monga’. In this regards, a project by one of the International Climate Champions 2010 by British Council Bangladesh has initiated in Lalmonirhat district to increase knowledge and awareness on impacts of climate change of the farmers, as well as proposing them to increase adaptability through cultivating more underutilized species. This is how they could increase crop diversity for adaption to climate change and can alleviate their seasonal food crises and malnutrition.

Download the full study report. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Partnership! Does it always a force marriage for professionals in development projects?

The issue of multi organizational partnership is the key factor for development even by it comes from government initiatives. The panelists of the 2nd day sessions from the E-AG conference 2014 in Dhaka has discussed the difficulties and prospective attitudes to deal with partnership in developmental works. This conference was organized by BIID(Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development), mPower, MEAS and CRS and was ran for 3rd and 4th December at Pan Pacific Hotel.

“There would be more opportunities in building partnership when government is welling to create it with private organizations and obviously for private initiatives it is always worthy to work with government. Generally, public staffs in most of the time are inefficient and in this case, it can make opportunities if NGOs try to rich and support public service agents to be efficient. Though it is not profitable to serve community but sometimes its needed to be involve in non-profitable activities” mentioned by Andreas Bohn, expert in agriculture extension and advisory services, University of Illinois.

“If Agriculture Information System is present, value chain is the right in the development”, she also included when it become a major discussion issue on how partnership can be brought to enhance development using ICT.

Mahmud Hossain added as a panelist that it is very necessary to dissemination of knowledge and experiences country-wide. He is the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer in Grameenphone, Bangladesh.

Can ICT be used in education, extension in University level? If this become a question, experts said this is not the only country like Bangladesh needs ICT to integrate into education and knowledge exchange and its really quite exceptional if it is the USA.  Three external and internal factors involve in involvement of ICT in education: government, educational ministry and Universities like, if a agriculture student do an internship in an ICT organization this can easily influence others to be interested his/her career in such techno-based agro initiatives.

It has been recommended from the professionals from the conference that we have to do such kind of workshop/seminars to involve government and policy makers. Thus it can be a formal way to be act, like government would lead initiative under their umbrella which can bring all the actors and be gathered easily and another is non-formal e.g. development of a forum. Such as (Bangladesh agriculture network) is trying to develop by the Bangladesh government which can bring the professionals into a common platform and all the actors in agriculture(from farmers to experts) can join here.

(more pictures are here).

Bring everyone with common interest of ICT is now one of the major tasks to step forward to fasten agriculture with development if you really think to kick off it in developing countries like Bangladesh even after two third of its populations are using cell phones!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ICT Experts Heading in Dhaka to Enhance Agricultural Development in Bangladesh: Connecting Farmers and ICT

"This is true, when a hawker shouts in streets and lanes to collect and buy trashed papers from house as well as watching a video song in cell phone, to imagine undoubtedly the fascination of mobile use in Bangladesh" said by Dr. Craig Meisner, Country Director, World Fish Center at the very early morning of 3rd December at E-AG Conference 2014. This event is holding at Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka. Not only him, several speakers mentioned as the same that they are fully motivated with the scenario of mass use of mobile on an average of 73% of Bangladeshis and 50% poor families have cell phone. It is not the matter that the device is used widely, the fact is that it the most vital tool to communicate with farmers, share formation and deliver services to accelerate the agricultural development in the country. Ether youths or even older persons are very eager to use the device and ready to accept services through it. There are many successful stories in most developed countries and now in several developing countries like Bangladesh. Putting the ICT in the front, from experts to researchers, University faculties, beneficiaries and policy makers gathered in the conference to present their activities, share experiences and delivers difficulties they are facing to step forwards. They hope to carry the issue of connecting ICT with agriculture and make the farmers more functional and efficient in Bangladesh. 

The team of YPARD (Young professionals for Agricultural Development) Bangladesh has the gratitude to the organizers for finding scope to act as social media representative for the event.

The two days conference will be held to find recommendations to the government to bring the service comfortable to the farmers and related stakeholders. This conference is solely organized by partnership with BIID (Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development), mPower, MEAS and CRS. All the people in the field of ICT and agriculture sectors are looking forward for the outcomes of this long-waited event.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Securing Family Nutrition from Wild Edible Plants! Our Scilent Friends from Nature!

If the picture in left seems something new to anyone, I shall be amazed! This 10 years old Tania in the picture was harvesting plants containing hundreds of ripped yellow berries of Solanum villosum (locally “Pitt Begun” in Bengali) from the field along with her sister, taken from a village in Savar sub-district of Dhaka. It is very common and usual practice in rural population of Bangladesh as I have seen this one and they take such varieties of wild grown plants into their regular food consumption. Men and women in rural homes collect plants from the open fields, roadsides, river banks and crop lands which they commonly cook and also can sell into the local market. While the difference with the youngers is they simply harvest the edible parts and eat at once throughout their play grounds. In both ways, these unnoticed plant species are providing supplementary nutrition to in the family. This shared short documentary below on wild edible plants easily exemplified their importance in rural community where regular food items scared in seasonally. The video was supported by TVeBiomovies and selected for UN annual closing ceremony in 2010 for the declaration on Year of Biodiversity:

 We always have less attention to these wild edibles on nutritional perspectives!  

Bathua, a weed which has high minerals.
The wild edibles are holding an important part in meal for every rural community in Bangladesh and the age of such indigenous knowledge might be of thousand years. This is human nature to gather plants from their surroundings and eat them by simple cooking with water, salt and chili. Then it becomes a way for trimming down their monthly expenditure during crisis of money or food and as well as sometimes used for improving test of meal, health care and culture. The food they eat, without any knowledge about their nutritional values in their mind. For instance, Chenopodium album (‘Bathua’ in Bengali) is a common weedy plant grown in the cultivatable lands which is a favorite leafy vegetable to the village people during winter. In comparison to other winter vegetable in the country, its protein content is twice than in cabbage, and 1.5 times higher than spinach and lettuce and moreover, several folds higher in calcium and magnesium content and rich in vitamins too.

Leucas aspera, in Bengali Dondo kolosh, has white flowers, that have interest by children to collect and eating honey from it.

Hibiscus sabdariffa L. var. sabdariffa, Chukur in Bengali is rich in iron, calcium, vitamin C and fiber content.
The dependence on these plants is enormous to the poorer sections of the village communities who are suffering from malnutrition.  Few other examples are also usually seen in the village markets in Bangladesh e.g. Amaranthus sessilis (‘Shanti shak’ in Bengali), Amaranthus viridis (‘Khai khuria’ in Bengali), Diplazium esculentum (‘Dekhi shak’ in Bengali), Enydra fluctuans (‘Henchi shak’ in Bengali), Moringa olifera (‘Sazna’ in Bengali). These wild vegetables also have preference in dishes of urban areas by the low income level people. The list of such edibles is larger than I said but these people are always less aware of their nutritional benefits whether these are already known to the scientific communities and policy makers. It is already scientifically reported that the leaves and immature fruit of Sazna is highly nutritious and potent medicinal values. Likely, Roshun shak strengthen you immune system and helps fight against diseases, inflorescence of banana is common for people and rich in minerals, Khai khuria is rich in protein, vitamins and contain anti-oxident that purify toxic compounds from our blood. 
Kolmi shak (Ipomoea sp.) is a common wild grown plant in marshy area.
Kochu (Colocasia sp.) is the most common for its leaf, leaf talk and corm in every region.
Nakful/Roshun shak (Spilanthes paniculata), leaves and young shoots are common wild vegetable.

In some cases, scientific studies found toxic and anti-nutritive compounds from wild edibles like, Oxalis corniculata (‘Amrul’ in Bengali) and Amaranthus spinosus (‘Kata khuria’ in Bengali) can cause renal failure. Where as, leaves of these two species are widely consumed by the rural people in many countries.

In perspective of income generation, several non-cultivated vegetables have always demand in local markets with good price. Thus in few regions, these plants turn out money for jobless or workless families in rural areas and forest communities. They just have very little or less knowledge about harvesting of plant materials from the nature which in sometimes causes threats to extinction!
Atia kola (Musa sapientum var. sylvestris). The inflorescence is rich in minerals.

In fact, this edible source is the least prioritized branch in most of the underdeveloped countries during policy making of nutritional programs and agricultural initiatives. In my point of view, four steps can easily contribute in eradicating malnutrition, increase crop diversity and as well as an effective local action for agriculture. First, seeking local and indigenous knowledge of non-conventional, wild and semi-wild, non-cultivated, edible plants; second, studying their nutritional values and health impacts; third, creating local awareness on wild edibles and their nutritional potentiality, especially in schools and youths; and finally, policy changes in developing agricultural practice for domestication of these crops which can improve the crop diversity in the country and add nutritional values to the people. In addition, these wild plants are reported to have tolerance to drought and diseases which means they have prospect to fight against climate change crisis.
Development of new domesticated vegetables can be an example for other countries to deal the global food and nutritional security in the forthcoming days of global climate change.