Bangladesh's Final Report to DFID

Abstract

  1. The goal of this DfID-funded project was to improve rural livelihoods through accelerated adoption of resource-conserving technologies.

  2. Farmers in villages in the Dinajpur area were assessed according to family size and landholding in order to determine their Rice Self Sufficiency Indices and assign them to one of four socio-economic groups, i.e. Landless, Marginal, Subsistence and Food Surplus.

  3. All farmers complained that yields from the old Kanchan wheat variety were low and that hand threshing was extremely laborious and a serious constraint to increased wheat production.

  4. Results obtained from Output 1 of this project showed that all four socio-economic groups of farmers can obtain increased wheat yields of between 40 and 80% by planting seed from the new Shatabdi variety. However, due to seed shortages at official outlets, few farmers had been able to access it.

  5. On investigating the various ways in which farmers access information regarding new technologies under project Output 2, it became clear that despite being in the majority, Marginal and Landless farmers, including women, are normally excluded from traditional forums for technology transfer, such as demonstrations and field-days, while there are a number of constraints to accessing improved seed from BADC, including seed shortages and poor quality control.

  6. In order to optimise pro-poor development, scientists from WRC collaborated with fieldworkers from the local NGO, DIPSHIKA. This team was tasked with empowering Marginal and Landless farmers through Whole Family Training to take control of Shatabdi seed production as an income-generating activity in order to improve access to this technology for all socio-economic groups.

  7. This process has been highly successful with Food surplus and Subsistence farmers being amongst those buying the high quality seed and some Marginal farmers being approached by BADC to supply more seed in future.

  8. The trained Marginal and Landless farmers have been able to make considerable improvements to their livelihoods by selling high quality Shatabdi seed from 0.08 ha plots, in terms of all five capital assets.

  9. Research results indicated that threshing machines were having zero impact on Marginal and Landless farmers in terms of either reducing drudgery or increasing income. Some Landless farmers had reduced employment opportunities due to the mechanisation process.

  10. Furthermore, without external support, these farmers were unlikely to ever gain control or even access these machines due to their limited landholdings and financial poverty.

  11. WRC scientists and DIPSHIKA field-workers were able to create an enabling environment, using training, local manufacture and micro-finance to reduce the risk involved for Marginal farmers to set up wheat threshing services.

  12. Again this process was highly successful in terms of creating a win-win situation whereby the poorest farmers were able to take control of the threshing machines in order to generate income, thereby improving access to this service by all socio-economic groups.

  13. It is expected that the Marginal farmers will be able to complete repaying the loans they took to purchase the threshing machines within three years.

  14. This work has shown that traditional technology dissemination methods which favour Food Surplus and Subsistence farmers because of their ability to take risks discriminate against risk-averse Marginal and Landless farmers. Whereas optimal uptake can result from dissemination methods that focus on the needs of the poorest.

  15. This means providing sufficient training and financial support to Marginal and Landless farmers (including women) to enable them to take control of new technologies in a way that ensures equal access by all.

  16. Plans are being made to scale this work up to reach more than 10,000 Marginal/Landless farming families in wheat-growing areas of Bangladesh.

Citation

Page, S.L.J.; Elahi Baksh; Motiur Rahman; Lucky, R.Y.; Jahangir Kabir; Harun-ur-Rashid. Bangladesh’s Final Report to DFID. CABI Europe, UK (2006) 37 pp.

Bangladesh’s Final Report to DFID

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