Among the poverty-alleviation interventions undertaken by government and civil society organizations in Bangladesh are food-based strategies designed to increase incomes and to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies. Starting in 1994, credit and training in small-scale vegetable varieties were provided to women who grow vegetables on small plots of land on or near their household compounds in Saturia. In Mymensingh and Jessore technical advice in polyculture fish production was provided. These technologies had been developed by the World Fish Center and were disseminated in two ways. In Mymensingh, they were distributed to individual households that owned fishponds via a fisheries project that began in 1990. In Jessore, they were introduced via a medium-sized local NGO, Banchte Shekha, which arranged long-term pond leases managed by groups of 5 to 20 women who received credit and training starting in 1993.
This brief focuses on the long-term impact of these improved vegetable and fish technologies, and whether early adoption is an important factor in alleviating poverty and improving nutritional status. A summary of the long-term impacts of the early adoption of three agricultural interventions on household consumption, assets, and incomes; nutrient availability and intake; and individual nutritional status is presented. Across all three sites, the biggest returns to early adoption were in the privately owned fishpond sites, where clear long-term gains were found in terms of household consumption, assets, and aggregate nutrient availability. For the improved vegetable sites, the emphasis on targeting women enabled a technology with minimal income gains to achieve substantial impacts on nutritional status.
IFPRI, Washington, USA/CPRC, Manchester, UK, 4 pp.