Wheat

The major activities and achievements of AAS since it’s founding in 1989 are as follows:

AAS working areas and infrastructures

Since its inception, AAS has implemented a numerous projects to alleviate poverty and to ensure the food security among the resource poor and small farmers of Bangladesh . Thus AAS has been implementing its project activities at about 642 villages in more than 211 unions under more than 75 upazilas of 25 working districts with about 100 partner NGOs under three working zones (Northeast, Northwest and Southwest) of the country during last 5 years. Since inception, AAS has been established offices and relevant infrastructures (Training centers, IT centre, fish hatchery etc) in the three working zones to implement its project activities at the grassroots levels. Working areas of AAS and involved PNGOs are provided below:

AAS Partner NGOs/CBOs Network

AAS has historically implemented its rural based, agricultural productivity enhancing projects through its large network of rural based Partner Organizations (NGOs/CBOs). AAS has been strengthening and expanding its “partner NGO network” all over the country since 1989. At the beginning, a total of 23 national and international NGOs were involved with AAS partner NGO network during 1989-90 under funding support from USAI D (PRIP/ PACT ). At present about 100 NGOs directly and indirectly are involved with AAS partner NGO network. Moreover, 200 NGOs were involved for implementing AAS developed intensified crop management strategies with their client resource poor farmers in 3 working zones during 1996-2004. A total of 125 AAS partner organizations (NGOs and CBOs) were responsible for implementing IRRI/PETRRA/DFID funded thirteen sub-projects/activities in 62 upazilas of Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Rajshahi, Chapai Nawabganj, Natore, Pabna, Sirajganj, Bogra, Naogaon, Jessore, Jhenaidah, Kushtia, Magura, Rajbari, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Gaibandha districts under the umbrella network of AAS during 1999-2004. A total of 91 partner organizations received training on sustainable FARM SEED strategy for its implementation with their partner resource poor farmers in three working zones. Total of 36 AAS partner NGOs have been developed for a partnership network all over the country in 3 working zones for extension of intensive carp poly-culture fish fingerling production and distribution under donor support. Total of 22 member NGOs of Oitijhya network have been developed in Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat and Pirojpur districts of southwest coastal region for scale-up salt tolerant rice variety through FARMSEED under the funding support from IRRI/BMGF during 2008-2010.

One of AAS’s great strengths is that it is able to work through a large network of experienced grassroots partner organizations. Large number of the skilled staffs established relevant infrastructures and sufficient micro-credit of the members of AAS partner NGO Network are the foundation strength of AAS to implement the suitable project activities on the cost-effective basis. Accordingly, AAS, being a relatively small organization itself, is able to cast a very big shadow over a large area. AAS could have such an impact on the basis of its own resources alone. Rural youth groups, women groups, CBOs and local NGOs representing diverse rural constituencies are all part of the AAS-Partnership Network. Accordingly, AAS gains strength from its network partners. On the other hand, AAS maintains close and collegial relationships with a large number of public sector and international organizations that have solid agri-technical credentials. These include IRRI, BRRI, BARI , BARC, BADC, DAE, BARD, CIMMYT, FAO, CABI, Rutgers University, JOBS, BMG F, IFAD, GROS, DFID, EU, RDA , IFPRI and others with whom AAS maintains and sustains long-term collaborative relationships.

Community Based Organizations (CBOs)

People living in a particular area or place (e.g. a village or part of village or part of town or more than one village) irrespective of religion, caste, or of ethnic origin of being tribal or aboriginal, who interact in their daily life with each other is called a “Community”. Inside such a community people generally have more or less similar occupation, culture and common interests, condition of sharing or having things/issues in common, and being alike or together in some ways for the interest of the community. .In Bangladesh CBOs have existed for a long time in rural and urban areas. These are either formal or informal organizations in the communities who act together towards a common goal in order to realize common interests and operate in an institutional manner. Various CBOs in rural areas in Bangladesh include cooperative societies, IPM Club, Integrated Crop Management (ICM) Club, Sport Club, Youth Club, Agriculture association, Landless association, Farmers association, Water user association, Irrigation Club, Farmer group, Krishok Samobay Samity ( KSS ), Milk cooperative Society, Fishermen association among others. Both formal and informal CBOs are active in the rural communities with various kinds of activities. A number of them are playing important roles in different agricultural activities including dissemination of agricultural technologies in a cost-effective manner.

Poverty Elimination Through Rice Research Assistance (PETRRA), a Project of IRRI funded by DFID has used CBOs for implementation of a large number of sub-projects during 1998-2004 with various organizations including Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS). On the basis of the findings of AAS and other involved organizations, PETRRA concluded that working with CBOs are more cost-effective and successful than NGOs, especially with small fund resources (Mele, P.V. et.al. 2005 and Rashid, H. 2004). AAS has developed a CBOs network with about 250 CBOs, of which 152 CBOs are currently active under the funding support of STRASA, a project of IRRI funded by BMGF in southwest coastal region. Out of these active ones, 75 CBOs in Satkhira, 42 in Khulna and 35 in Bagrehat are invovled with network for implementation of scale-up salt tolerant rice variety through FARMSEED. Out of these CBOs, 102 are IPM/ICM clubs, 39 Samobay Samity and 11 are community clubs.

Farmers’ group formation

AAS farmer-groups are formed mostly among resource poor farmers as informal agricultural production groups. These grass-root groups are committed to creating their own wealth by using AAS’s sustainable and intensive agricultural production strategies and techniques. AAS has organized a total of more than 800 farmer groups including 250 female groups comprised of more than 30,000 resource poor farmers since its founding in 1989 in the three working zones in the country. Each group is formed with an average of 25 interested and motivated farmers with a selected coordinator. To implement the activities of projects / programs and approaches, AAS is formed farmers groups in collaboration with PNG Os in its working areas.

Developing the skill and capacities of partner farmers

AAS has been used its network of field based demonstrations in combination with state of the art of training modules to enhance the skill and capacity of more than 30,000 farmers to adapt a wide range of sustainable, high value, intensive agricultural practices. Most of participating farmers are classified as “resource poor“and as such are the ongoing partners of AAS and its partnership network. The skills and capacities of all its partners are being developed through the practical participatory training and motivational actives sponsored by various donor funded projects and agencies since 1989.

Building the capacities and skill of its partners

AAS has been conducted a series of agricultural training programs for the benefit of more than seven hundred staff of AAS and its partner organizations (NGOs & CBOs) along with relevant public sector organizations and private sector players since its founding in 1989. AAS devotes substantial resources to strengthening and expanding its network of partner NGOs in the country. At present besides CBOs, about 100 local NGOs make up the “AAS Partnership Network.

Technical support to NGOs

During 1989-90, AAS trained about 200 Staff of 23 NGOs including RDRS, CARE, CCDP, Wold Vision-Bangladesh, IDE, PROSHIKA, GK etc on nursery and orchard management, Agro-forestry and sustainable irrigated intensified cropping strategy under the funding support from USAID (PRIP/ PACT ). Principal objective of initiative was to develop skill and capacity of the NGOs in the field of high value year round crop production including plant nursery and horticultural orchard. Practical field based training for the agricultural staff of 23 NGOs on nursery and orchard management, Agro-forestry and sustainable irrigated intensified cropping strategy was the foundation initiative at beginning of AAS emergence in 1989. About 600 mini-nurseries and 250 small-scale orchards were established with skilled farmers of the trained NGOs in their working areas under the technical supervision of AAS during 1990-91. It was particularly a strong founding contribution of AAS in early stage of private nursery flourishing in the country. Moreover, thousands of trained and motivated farmers of trained partner 23 NGOS were able to grower .more than 20 high value cash crops in their small plots attached and outside of the homestead in the community. Such kind of technical support through NGOs network innovative drive was undertaken by Harun-Ar-Rashid, Executive Director under direct advice and supervision of the founder instigator, Dr. David Gisselquist of AAS. AAS has established more than 1000 small scale orchards with high value fruits such as Mango, exotic Jujube, Litchi, Sapota etc with trained and motivated farmers (fruit growers) since in 1989

Exotic Jujube extension

AAS has been introducing exotic Jujube cultivars (Taiwan Kul, Thai 1&2 Kul, Chines Kul, Burmese Kul and Apple Kul) since 2005 through establishment of demo. orchard in collaboration with Modern Horticulture Center (MHC) in Natore district. One of the first demo. Orchard on Taiwan Kul was established at Bonpara, Boraigram, Natore with Mr. Kolam Tar Ali, an innovative person in 2004. There was large scale media coverage (TV channels, Newspaper etc) on this successful demo. orchard during harvesting of fruits (January-February 2005) of Jujube. Accordingly, information on the success of exotic jujube cultivation spreads all over the country within shortage possible time due to large scale media coverage (TV, Newspaper) on the AAS established first demo. orchard. AAS provided practical training on improved jujube orchard establishment and management among more than 500 interested farmers and elite orchard owners in southwest and northwest regions in country during 2004-2011. Training follow-up in field technical services provided by AAS horticulturists during jujube orchard establishment and post management practices. AAS conducted research on Nut weevil of jujube and Tube Spittle Bug under the leadership on Dr. Z.H. Prodhan, Entomologist and scientific collaboration with CABI , UK . On the basis of research findings, AAS published two fact sheets on Nut weevil of jujube and Tube Spittle Bug for distribution among the owners of jujube orchards in Natore,Pabna and Rajshahi districts. AAS also established a whole sale market at Bonpara more, Baraigram Natore as a hub market for marketing the jujube all over the country in collaboration with lead jujube orchard owners local elite at Bonpara market .

Banana production and marketing

Commercialized Banana production and marketing, as a high value cash crop is the central activity of AAS under its uptake of high value crop varieties and sustainable intensive cropping strategies. AAS has introduced AAS Sagar-1 (Known as Ranggin Mehar Sagar in greater Rangpur district) and Meher Sagar of Banana through demonstration as a high value cash crop for resource poor farm families in its working zones since 1989. About a million suckers of AAS Sugar-I, Meher Sagar and Amrita Sagar cultivars distributed among the banana growers during 1989-2004 within and outside of the AAS’s working areas. AAS has also been introducing its own developed improved production and post harvest practices of Banana among the banana growers in the country.

Commercial intensive crop production management

The central activity of AAS is the establishment and operation of its commercial intensive crop production management demonstrations on demand driven and incentive basis. For commercial purpose, AAS established intensive crop production partnership with more than 1000 resource poor farm families (Small, medium and marginal), input suppliers, middlemen, POs and DAE representatives in the country during 1996-2000 under the funding support from ASSP/DFID/DAE. AAS mobilized its own resources and resources its partner farmers for the commercialized crop production with more than 20 high value cash crops. The performance of AAS’s commercialized crop production management system was found mixed in its different working areas. AAS staffs were fully able to administer the commercialized crop production management feature of the revolving fund scheme. They were able to do this on behalf of the participating farmers, the input and revolving credit suppliers and the middlemen who purchase the crops. The major frustration was found to collect the revolving fund from the partner resource poor farmers by the salary based field staff of AAS without establishing of the credit management system.

Pilot revolving fund management scheme

AAS had shown that small plot cultivators, given systematic access to essential crop production inputs, were successful in alleviating their poverty. AAS’s crop production financing capacity was enable for small plot cultivators to purchase necessary inputs gradually and use appropriate practices for yield and incomes. Agricultural advances disbursed to individual participants who form themselves into AAS supervised production/marketing groups within the command areas of each demonstration cluster. The loan sanctioning/collection authority was with the concern AAS crop production supervisor. The crop production supervisor managed advances and collections within the commend area of each cluster. For farmers’ accepted crops, a total of Tk. 25,65,250 revolving fund was mobilized among more than 1000 trained participating farmers. However, AAS’s experience with managing the revolving fund was found frustrating due to lack of established credit management system with the involved partner resource poor farmers in the working areas.

Homestead garden plots establishment

AAS established 256 organized and protected homestead garden plots during 1996-2000 within the working zones of AAS under the funding support from ASSP/DFID/DAE. The farmers’ response was found poor about the exotic, organized and protected homestead garden establishment. As a result involved farm families were reluctant to invest the time and resources necessary to sustain AAS’s homestead gardening demonstrations. However, AAS is committed to make efforts to meet its homestead gardening commitments by concentrating its efforts on extremely high value crops for short duration on a year-round basis within and attached small plots of AAS trained farm families.

Nursery and orchard strategy

During 1996-1999, AAS established about 300 commercialized private nurseries with skilled farmers including resource poor farmers of 32 partner NGOs in 15 districts of three working zones of AAS in the country. AAS trained total of 58 staff of 32 members of AAS partner NGO network under the funding support of ASSP/DFID/DAE on plant nursery and horticultural orchard establishment, operation and management during 1996-1999.

Uptake of high value crop varieties

AAS, where appropriate, introduces new, high value cash crops and accompanying production packages. More than 90% of these available high value crop varieties and production packages have been demonstrated through AAS partner farmer/partner organizations. Of these, more than 50 crops and associated production packages have been accepted by farmers at the field level and have reached a high level of commercialized of production. The high value crop uptake process is participatory and is demand-led by the involved farmers under taken with several donors, seed companies, PNG Os support and resources also from AAS’s own fund.

Uptake of sustainable intensive cropping

The central activity of AAS is to establish income generating, sustainable cropping systems on the basis of introducing high value cash crops. So far, AAS has established model on sustainable, intensive crop production systems among more than 30000 of its partner farmers. Specially, AAS developed the strategy on irrigated intensive cropping system in charland and its dissemination was under taken through AAS partnership network in Manikgonj, Mushigonj and Dhaka districts during 1989 under funding support from USAID (PRIP/ PACT )/DSC. Selected Private Organizations have been mobilized revolving working capital resources among them for the purpose of financing the cost for high value inputs since 1990.

Seed production and distribution

Quality seed / planting material production and distribution of different demand-led crops among its relevant skilled seed farmers and partners are the central activities of AAS. AAS produces and distributes seed planting material of more than twenty different inbred and hybrid crops. Thus demand-led crop seed production and distribution systems and strategy have established in the AAS working areas. AAS has also developed contract farming system for production seed of rice and non-rice crops in southwest and northwest regions for private seed companies and dealers. Moreover, AAS developed contract farming system for seed production of rice and non-rice crops in southwest and northwest regions for the private sector seed selling agencies in the country. AAS has also developed F 1 rice hybrid seed production management system for private agencies. A draft practical manual on F 1 hybrid rice seed production has developed by AAS during last 2009-10 Boro season. Further, improvement will be done on the manual for distribution among the F 1 rice seed production agencies in Bangladesh .

Irrigation system development

AAS has many successful experiences with the introduction, demonstration and operation of minor irrigation systems in the country and has played a vital role in irrigation system development in Bangladesh . AAS has been working on command area development of irrigation equipment (STW, DTW etc) with irrigated intensive cropping system in the country. AAS has published several manuals on “irrigated intensive crop production management systems”. AAS has established irrigation systems with low cost-effective difficult water table/aquifer condition in the country.

Promoting micro-nutrients in crop production

Besides fertilizer management, AAS, through field demonstration and linkages with suppliers, was undertaken the initiative for promoting the effective use of several essential micro-nutrients including boron and zinc as essential micro-nutrient supplements for high yield crop production in specific nutrient deficient areas during 1989-2004.

Aquaculture management program

AAS has been operating its fish hatchery at Alampur, Kushtia with trained fishermen and fish farmers on contractual agreement. Under such sub-contract system, about 500 Kg of quality hatchlings of seven different carps produced and distributed every year since 1996. AAS developed intensive fish fingerling and carp poly culture production and marketing strategy for the fish farmers and fishermen in Southwest Bangladesh .

Arsenic hazard abatement

The water of 9853 tubewells (mostly HTWs) at 112 villages in 25 upazilas of Faridpur, Jessore, Satkhira, Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Magura, Gopalgonj, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Kishoregonj and Rajbari districts were for Arsenic contamination by AAS during 1995-2001 using resources from AAS own fund. A total of 520 new arsenic free HTWs for drinking water were installed through changing well depth with the support of Krishok Bandhu Agro-System Ltd (KBAL) and world vision-Bangladesh. A total 173 HTW installers, 429 civil society members, journalists etc were trained on arsenic hazards and its adaptation and mitigation methods. AAS implemented a project on Arsenic in the food chain: Assessment of the water-soil-crop systems in Rajshahi and Chaipai Nawabganj districts in collaboration with BAU , Mymensingh and BRRI, Gazipur under funding support from PETRRA/IRRI/DFID. The project has generated several relevant findings related to Arsenic in the food chain. AAS participated in conducting workshop and publishing the proceedings of the workshop on Arsenic in the Food chain: Assessment of Arsenic in the water-soil-crop systems, held on 22 July 2004 in Dhaka .

Road safety program

AAS played facilitating advisory role in developing an NGO network for implementing programs appropriate to making our roads safer. AAS actively participated in the NGO network on road safety under the umbrella organization of IMCT. AAS was assigned to coordinate Dhaka Division of the Network, Road safety and Executive Director, AAS was actively involved as a national Advisor of the network (Road safety) during 1999-2001.

Post flood rehabilitation program

AAS was involved in post flood agri–rehabilitation programs of 1998 and 2004 devastating floods under direct funding support from DFID-Dhaka/ASSP, DAE, PRISM-Bangladesh, Concern Bangladesh , GROS-Belgium and IRRI.

As per agreement between AAS and ASSP/DFID, AAS procurred a total of 25,171 kgs of Vegetable seeds (Lalshak 15384kgs, Spinach 7727kgs, Radish 522 kgs, Sweet gourd 769 kgs and bottle gourd 769 kgs) for distribution among the flood affected resource poor farmers of 65 ASSP partner NGOs to implement 1998 post flood agri-rehabilitation program. Under these collaborative efforts of AAS and KBAL with funding support from DFID/ASSP a total of 1,63,428 master packets of vegetable seeds were delivered to 65 ASSP partner NGOs and 16 partner NGOs of AAS partner NGO network.

AAS distributed a total of Tk. 15,50,000 as cash and a total 2500 master Packets (220 gm/Family) of vegetable seeds five crops in badly affected six thanas of Narsighdi, Kishoregonj and Gaibandha districts. Besides, this, AAS directly received 500 master packets of vegetable seeds and distributed among the flood affected 500 farmers at 50 Villages in 5 Unions under Sadar and Boalmari thanas of Faridpur district. Total of 9590 master packets (220gm/family) of five different vegetables seed were distributed among 9590 flood affected resource poor farmers in Sirajgonj, Pabna, Gopalgonj, Dinajpur and Faridpur districts through 16 AAS partner NGOs of the network.

AAS also supplied 3000 master packets (92gms) of 6 differ vegetables seed to PRISM-Bangladesh. AAS provided field supervision after distribution of the seed among 3000 resource poor farmers of PRISM-Bangladesh in Manikgonj district.

As per contractual agreement with concern-Bangladesh, AAS supplied own produced quality 108 MT of certified potato seed (variety: Cardinal) to Concern-Bangladesh. This potato seed was distributed among the flood affected resource poor farmers in Faridpur, Pabna and Niphamari districts under post flood agri-rehabilitation programme of Concern-Bangladesh.

AAS distributed 2000 Kg foundation seed of BRRI dhan 28 and 29 for seed production (3 Kg/farmer/variety), 5000 Kg rice hybrid seed and 6000 Packets of vegetable seed (five crops) among the flood affected 11,700 resource poor farm families at about 250 communities of 36 POs as post flood agri-rehabilitation program during 2004-5 winter season in seven districts of Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions of Bangladesh under the funding support of IRRI and GROS, Belgium of 2004 post flood agri-rehabilitation program.

 

Locally intensive farming enterprise ( LIFE )

AAS has worked as a partner NGO (PNGO) to implement the LIFE project of CARE -Bangladesh funded by the European commission (EC) during 1999-2000. The LIFE project has implemented with about 2000 resource poor farm families (RPFFs) at 24 Villages in Sadar upazila of Kishoregonj and Nandail upazila of Mymensingh districts.

Performance of rice hybrids

Four rice hybrids-Aalok, Sonarbangla 1, Loknath 503 and Amarsiri-1 were permitted by GOB for commercial cultivation during 1998-99 Boro season based on the recommendation by the National Seed Board (NSB). Accordingly, Commercial Seed Companies-Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI), Ganges Development Corporation, Mallika Seed Company and McDonald Bangladesh Private Ltd-were permitted to important 2,200 metric tons of 4 rice hybrids seed from India (Aalok, Loknath 503 and Amarsiri 1) and China (Sonarbangla 1). Meanwhile, there were a lot of reports published in the daily newspapers in favour of or against each of large scale import of such hybrid rice seed without adequately verifying their adaptability under Bangladesh conditions.

Four rice hybrids (Sonarbangla 1, Amarsiri 1, Aalok and Loknath 503) along with BRRI Dhan 29 as check were assessed during 1998-99 Boro season with 50 farmers (33 farmers were reported) in 10 districts (Jessore, Faridpur, Narail, Norsingdi, Kishoregonj, Bogra, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Jamalpur). Such assessment was conducted through field trial by Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS), as a third neutral party, under the guidance of Dr. A.J.M. Azizul Islam (Ex. DG, BRRI) and Dr. A.N.M Rezaul Karim (Ex. Director of Research, BRRI); under the supervision of Mr. Harun-Ar-Rashid, (Executive Director, AAS) with the objective to continuous assessment of rice hybrids available from commercial seed companies at the farmers’ field at various locations of Bangladesh and feed back to the respective companies about the merits and demerits of their rice hybrids. Thus, in cooperation with the four involved seed companies, Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS) as a third neutral party assessed the performance of the four permitted rice hybrids during the 1998-99 Boro season in 10 districts. The average grain yield, yield contributing characters, field duration, important ancillary characters and physic-chemical grain properties are collected, analysised and presented in the report. Overall, Sonarbangla 1, a Chinese rice hybrid performed better than the 3 Indian hybrids (Aalok, Amarsiri 1, and Loknath 503) and BRRI dhan 29, a local Inbred HYV. The study’s findings were influential among private seed companies and NGOs. Subsequently, other private seed companies and BRAC, the largest NGO in Bangladesh , decided to important rice hybrids seed from China . Thus, the planted area of rice hybrids in 2007-8 is about 1 million hectares, mostly under Boro season in the country. Accordingly, such initiative was the foundation effort for introduction of rice hybrids in general and Chinese rice hybrids in particular in Bangladesh .

Rice yield maximization

The purpose of the farmer’s participatory yield maximization of rice was to demonstrate, how resource poor farmers could maximize rice production with higher income from their small plots. Rice yield maximization trial was conducted with 560 resource poor farmers in seven districts of AAS working Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions of the country in collaboration with three private seed companies, PNGOs and CBOs. Three tested high yielding rice hybrid cultivars (Sonarbangla-1, Hira and Aftab LP50) were used in participatory rice yield maximization trial during 2003-4 Boro seasons. The overall performance of rice hybrids was found tremendous and very much encouraging for the approach to replicate all over the country with all categories of farmers including resource poor farmers. The rice yield maximization trial was conducted by PETRRA/AAS staff using AAS own fund for implementation of the trial.

Field trial on short duration rice cultivars

Farmer’s participatory field trial on three Nepalese short duration rice cultivars (Pant dhan 10, Judi 582 and PNR 381) was conducted during 2004-05 Boro seasons with 5 partner NGOs (PNGOs) in Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Jhenaidah, Sirajganj and Natore districts. This field trial on short duration rice cultivars was undertaken in collaboration with the centre for Arid Zone Studies-Natural Resources (CAZS-NR), University of Wales, Bangor, UK under a project on “Improvement of Rainfed Cropping Systems in the high Barind tract of Bangladesh”, funded by DFID, UK. Three Nepalese short duration rice cultivars were tested against BRRI dhan 28 and Aftab LP 50 (F 1 ) at 6 communities in Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions.

The paddy yield of three short duration rice cultivars failed to produce higher yield than BRRI dhan28. Growth duration of the three cultivars was found little higher than BRRI dhan28. Aftab LP 50 (F 1 ) produced significant higher yield than four short duration rice cultivars including BRRI dhan28 with very little higher duration.

Plant health services initiative

AAS implemented a survey under a project on plant health services initiative (PHSi) with financial support and technical guidance from CABI Bioscience UK , in 30 villages of Natore, Norsingdi and Moulvibazar districts during 2004-05. The project developed an effective plant health management system for providing a better flow of information about diseases and pests to the scientists, researchers and extensionists in the country. In this regards, the project prepared 5 reports, of which 3 seasonal reports, 1 summary report and local knowledge of plant health in Bangladesh by the end of the project cycle.

Plant clinic operation

Plant health clinic is a new approach for providing effective plant health services on plant health problems to the rural farmers. The approach has been introduced for the farmers in Baraigram upazila of Natore district by AAS with assistance from CABI , UK since 1 September 2005 . In view of the objectives of Global Plant Clinic ( GPC ), AAS has established a network of model plant health management permanent clinic to ensure better plant health management services to the farmers in Natore district, so that they can enhance their crop production, reduce cost of crop production by avoiding the frequent use of chemicals, increase their income and remove the risk of crop failure due to the pest and disease infestation and finally, they save the environment from pollution. Besides operation of permanent plant clinic, piloting has been undertaken on three extension methods such as mobile plant clinic (Open), mobile plant clinic (Fixed) and going public to ensure better plant health management services to the farmers in Natore districts and to some extend surrounding districts of Natore. Assigned plant doctor (Pathologist/Entomologist) is solely responsible in collaboration with community plant doctors from 15 agricultural extension service providers ( AESP s) in operation of permanent plant clinic in Natore district and piloting the extension methods for better plant health management services in Baraigram upazila of Natore district and its surrounding districts. AAS developed a plant health services model with 3 approaches and prepared few hundred fact sheets on plant health management for more than 30 crops. Based on the expected success, AAS later intends to scale-up the most effective method(s) in other parts of the country.

AAS-PETRRA Project Activities:

AAS implemented 13 PETRRA (a DIFD funded project of IRRI-BRRI) funded sub-projects/activities with more than 25,000 resource poor farmers (RPFs) through more than 750 resource poor farmer groups (RPFGs) of 74 partner organizations (POs) and 60 CBOs in 22 districts of Bangladesh. Findings of the PETRRA funded sub-projects are available for dissemination among the targeted farm families with the leadership of the skilled group coordinators of the trained partner organizations (NGOs/CBOs) under the supervision of AAS as a technical apex organization. The AAS-PE TRRA project activities and their brief achievements are as follows:

Strengthening FARMSEED extension method: The sub-project has been implemented in 246 villages of Kishoreganj, Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts with around 331 groups including 84 female groups in collaboration with 31 partner organizations (NGOs/CBOs). More than 2,000 resource poor farmers from 161 villages have been trained and enlisted as “Truthfully labeled seed producers” by the FARMSEED network. As a result, the overall rate of FARMSEED exchange in the sub-project area has steadily increased from about 4.5% in the year 2000 to more than 35% in 2004. AAS has been implementing the FARMSEED strategy in Natore, Pabna and Sirajganj districts, in about 80 communities; with it own resources since 2003 T. Aman season. Nevertheless, based on this great achievement and the initial responses of the resource poor farmers, AAS accepts FARMSEED as the preferred standard extension method and is strongly committed to scaling-up the method to a national wide level. AAS has also taken initiative of producing foundation rice seed since last 2002-2003 Boro season. AAS has been taken initiative to test FARMSEED strategy for other crops’ seed production such as wheat, Onion, Potato and Mug bean with its own resources.

Participatory integrated plant nutrient management: Participatory integrated plant nutrient management for intensive rice-based cropping sub-project funded by PETRRA was executed in Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts during December 2001 to June 2004. The purpose of the sub-project was to encapsulate farmers’ indigenous knowledge of soil fertility evaluation and making them to prepare village level soil fertility maps, prescribe integrated plant nutrient management (IPNM) packages for their specific field and increase rice productivity. During the two and half year tenure, the project reached at 215 villages, formed 429 groups (215 males and 214 females) with 6837 members, trained 8907 farmers (13% women), developed 213 PIPNM packages and prepared 216 soil fertility maps by the 216 skilled farmers extension agents (FEAs) in Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts. Based on the soil fertility maps and research results of the field experiments, a nutrient management packages for grades of soil of the entire village were prepared that was term as participatory integrated nutrient management packages (PIPNM). Based on the field trials’ results, field specific final IPNM package was developed in village level workshop. Participating farmers in each village workshop thoroughly discussed on FP (farmer’s practice) and IPNM (improved practice) doses, yield and accounted the economic outcome and finally prepared IPNM packages for each grade of soil fertility. The FEAs took the main leadership for dissemination of the PIPNM packages. Thus, the PIPNM packages reached to about 14,000 farmers’ field by the end of the project cycle in greater Sylhet district. With this, large-scale dissemination of the process is now very much possible where farmers can make their own nutrient packages with minimum laboratory support.

Participatory field trial on the performance of BRRI hybrid dhan1: PETRRA’s (a project of IRRI funded by DFID) sub-project on hybrid rice and BRRI decided to undertaken pilot testing on NSB released BRRI hybrid dhan 1 in Rajshahi and Comilla regions during 2001-02 Boro season. The PETRRA’s sub-project on hybrid rice and BRRI selected Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS) as the collaborator for pilot testing of BRRI hybrid dhan 1 in Rajshahi region. The purpose of the pilot testing was to evaluate the performance of BRRI hybrid dhan 1 under farmers’ field conditions in Rajshahi region. BRRI hybrid dhan 1 was assessed against BRRI dhan 29 as check during 2001-02 Boro season at 15 villages in 15 upazilas of 6 districts (Pabna, Natore Rajshahi, Nogaon, Bogra and Sirajganj) in Rajshahi region with 45 farmers (reported 33 farmers). The average grain yield of BRRI hybrid dhan 1 was about 7.22t per hectare, which is more or less similar to BRRI dhan 29. On the other hand, the maximum grain yield of BRRI hybrid dhan 1 was as much as 9.49t/ha and that of BRRI dhan 29 was 9.30t/ha. Thus, it is indicated that the higher level of yield potentiality for both BRRI hybrid dhan 1 and BRRI dhan 29 during Boro season is existed.

Participatory field trial of rice hybrids: The purpose of the farmer’s participatory hybrid rice field trials was to identify location specific adaptable rice hybrid(s) which are suitable for inclusion in a rice yield maximization package for the small plots of the resource poor farmers (RPFs). Six hybrid rice varieties were selected for the field trial. Five imported varieties (Sonarbangla 1, Jagoran 1, Hira, Aftab-LP50 and Richer 101) were selected along with BRRI hybrid dhan1 as check cultivars during 2003-04 Boro season. In order to implement the sub-project funded by PETRRA, 75 villages of 18 upazilas of 10 districts in Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions of Bangladesh were selected.

Among the 6 rice hybrids tested in three regions, Hira was found to be the highest average grain yield producing variety with 7.94 ton/ha followed in order by Sonarbangla1 (7.88 ton/ha), Aftab LP50 (7.85 ton/ha), Richer101 (7.83 ton/ha), Jagoran1 (7.49 ton/ha) and BRRI hybrid dhan1 (6.97 ton/ha) during 2003-2004 Boro season.

However, during farmers’ participatory evaluation workshop in 3 regions, the most accepted rice hybrids was found Sonarbangla1 (about 36%) followed in order by Hira (about 31%), Jagoran1 (about 11%), Richer (about 10%), Aftab LP50 (about 8%) and BRRI hybrid dhan1 (about 4%).

Performance of rice hybrids in Bangladesh : The primary purpose of this study was to assess the actual performance of hybrid rice, particularly the scale of adoption of different varieties and their impacts towards the lives of rural communities in Bangladesh . The study was conducted from middle of April to middle of May 2004 by a small group of experts with diversified experiences in agriculture in Southeast and South Asia.

An important parameter to assess the performance of hybrid varieties was the average yields obtained by farmers as against those of non-hybrid modern varieties. The overall findings of the study in all the twelve sites indicate that the yields of hybrid varieties are tremendously higher than those of other modern varieties. Invariable to sites depending on the management practices and the skills of farmers the increases are noticed from at least 14 mounds to as high as 37 mounds per acre (1.38t/ha-3.66t/ha). Considering this average yield increase, overall production per farm family, subsequent income and enhanced rice provision ability attained by a family and the comparative cost and return analysis between hybrids and non-hybrids, it is very obvious to note that the farmers are gradually shifting from non-hybrids to hybrids .

Hybrids have made significant changes towards the incomes and livings of farmers. With the introduction of hybrids farmer’s average incomes have increased remarkably, which range from 1000 taka to as high as 42,065 taka per family based on the total areas of cultivation.

Production and marketing of fine, aromatic and glutinous (FAG) rice: The primary purpose of the sub-project is to improve the production and marketing system of FAG rice in northeast Bangladesh . AAS organized trials and demonstrations with 22 FAG varieties in 2004 T. Aman and 7 varieties in 2003-04 Boro. Among the 11 fine and aromatic rice, the performance of 4 varieties were found to be good of which BRRI dhan 34 was found to be very promising particularly for Sylhet region. In the case of the Beruin cultivars, which are very sticky and somewhat glutinous, more or less similar performances were observed. The project selected nine Beruin cultivars, through are suitable for commercial cultivation in Northeast region of the country. The project developed quality seed production system for FAG rice production and marketing through group approach in greater Sylhet district. FAG rice production, nevertheless could be suitable for resource poor farmers, as it is highly profitable on cash-cost basis than full-cost basis.

Women-led group extension method: Women do most of the post harvest work including drying and storage particularly in rice. The project introduced innovative women-led extension methods to disseminate drying tables and storage technique to resource poor female farmers (RPFFs). Accordingly, since its inception in November 02, the project has formed and developed the leaderships of 26 women-led groups, 10 in Kishorganj and 16 in Habiganj districts, with around 570 RPFFs of 10 partner NGOs (PNGOs). Using the locally available materials the groups have designed a low cost drying table, and have validated the use of AAS developed plastic drum with naphthalene for rice seed storage. Both the technologies are now being widely used by members and non-members female farmers of the communities, and the method has been seen making good contribution in disseminating the rice technologies.

Skilled family members extension approach: The “Whole Family” sub-project was particularly aimed to introduce and organize a whole family extension approach as compared with half family (husband & wife), husband alone or wife alone approach on the dissemination of improved rice technologies among the RPFs. The particular purpose of the project, however, is innovative skilled family member(s) extension approach for rice knowledge dissemination among the resource poor farmers of Bangladesh .

To assess the effectiveness of the four tested methods, the project conducted an independent evaluation. The evaluations were made based on some key parameters such as knowledge and understanding levels of the participants, their uses of technologies, management of the field, decision making and problem solving ability, and finally based on the increases of rice yields and rice provision ability by each categories of the farmers. According to all the tests the half family member group ranked first, while the whole family group ranked second. The husband alone and wife alone group stood third and fourth respectively.

Extension of the system of rice intensification ( SRI ): A new approach of growing rice, globally known as SRI, has drawn much attention for its tremendous potentials of yield increase. Thousands of farmers all across the world have been involved in evaluating the practices in their farms. The introduction of the system of rice intensification (SRI) through this sub-project is to evaluate the opportunities of yield maximization in northeast region of Bangladesh in collaboration with BRRI regional station, Comilla during 2003 & 2004 Boro seasons. The project accordingly organized a number of trials in Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts. The results in terms of yields, field duration and yield components with the selected set of methodologies, however, noted that the system, at this stage, compare to farmer’s practices as well as the improved management practices recommended by BRRI is not performing well.

Arsenic in ground water and food chain: Ground water is the most important source of water supply for drinking and irrigation in Bangladesh . But, arsenic contamination in groundwater is one of the most serious natural calamities to befall Bangladesh . Around 80 million people, more than 65 percent of the population in Bangladesh , live in the arsenic contaminated areas. Ground water, which is the main source of contamination, is also a major source of irrigation. There are controversies that the contaminations are made by ground water irrigation as well. The project intends to establish information on the status of arsenic pollution in water-soil-plant in rice based cropping systems and suggest directions for future research. The project has been implemented in Chapai Nawabganj and Rajshahi districts in partnership with BAU and BRRI.

This study was aimed to find out the variation of arsenic content in groundwater according to well depth, age of and distance between wells (HTWs, STWs and DTWs) and distance from rivers in Rajshahi (Charghat and Bagha upazilas) and Chapai Nawabganj (Sadar, Shibganj upazilas) districts using GIS mapping to fix the database and plot the various indicators.

Among the three types of wells, arsenic contamination was found to be the highest with HTWs (27%), followed by STWs (21%) and the least with DTWs (7%). The middle layers (i.e., those between 40-160 feet) reflected the highest levels of arsenic contamination in groundwater. The shallower layers up to 35 feet and the deeper layers below 160 feet below the surface showed uniformly low (safe) levels of arsenic. As for age; the 3 types of tube wells tested were found to have no relationship with arsenic contamination. In case of lateral zoning with a 4 km assigned distance, most of the unsafe wells were within the 1 st zone and gradually decreased with the increase of distance from the rivers.

It was observed that arsenic concentration started to increase with the beginning of dry season and continued up to May/June. Arsenic concentration started to decrease with the beginning of the monsoon and reached at the minimum level after the monsoon. Further research activities from the preliminary findings confirm that arsenic uptake in different crops including rice and vegetables irrigated with arsenic contaminated ground water is well within safe limits of human consumption .

Community based integrated rice-duck farming: BRRI validated rice-duck farming as an “exotic technology” in collaboration with FIVDB, BDS and HEED-Bangladesh with funding support from PETRRA. The sub-project operated during 1 July 2001 to 31 June 2004 in greater Sylhet, Barisal and Khulna districts. The sub-project findings are very positive with several benefits and impacts among the participating resource poor farmers (especially farmers) in the project areas. But the sub-project has a missing element. The missing element is: How to cost-effectively disseminate and popularize this revolutionary technology on a broader scale among the resource poor farmers (RPFs). Thus, AAS proposed a project intends to provide the missing link in the context of a community based, integrated Rice-Duck farming extension programme. Mac-Bangladesh in collaboration with AAS conducted farmer’s participatory validation on a prospective “community based extension approach” in Srimangal upazila of Moulvibazar district during 2003 T. Aman season. The farmer’s participatory, early-validation on “Community Based Extension Approach” findings are, so far, very encouraging. Accordingly, AAS/Mac-Bangladesh conducted pilot test the rice-duck concept as a “Community Based Extension Approach” among resource poor farm families in Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts during 2004 T. Aus season (rainfed) with eight partner organizations (NGOs/CBOs). The overall performance of community based extension approach for dissemination of integrated rice-duck farming among the resource poor farmers was found very encouraging. So integrated rice-duck farming can be disseminated through community based extension approach in northeast Bangladesh .

Use of leaf color chart (LCC): On the basis of BRRI/IRRI findings on the practical use of LCC in rice production, AAS has taken an initiative with BRRI/IRRI to scaling-up the LCC technology in its working areas during 2003 T. Aman and 2004 Boro seasons. At the beginning of the initiative, BRRI provided practical training to AAS’s staffs and farmers on the use of LCC for urea top-dressing in rice production. For this purpose, AAS distributed about 300 LCC among the trained resource poor farmers during 2004. Post distribution monitoring was conducted on the use of LCC in urea application in rice production plots. Farmers’ response was not found encouraging in the project communities in Northeast, Northwest and Southwest regions in all three rice-cropping seasons.

Piloting Bangladesh rice knowledge bank (BRKB): Bangladesh Rice Knowledge Bank (BRKB) was launched in 2004 by IRRI with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) as leader and RDRS and Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS) as partners for testing its content with relevant stakeholders including farmers and communication feed back from them. BRKB started with materials coming up from PETRRA sub-projects of IRRI/BRRI. The availability of rice knowledge information with audience friendly materials is of utmost importance. Accordingly, the establishment of BRKBs at the regional level is an essential aspect of making BRKB “rice knowledge” available to the widest range of extension service providers and farmers as knowledge source “Hub’ . BRKB is an electronic repository/library of rice knowledge. It contains information of rice technology, rice training, extension method, and even related knowledge beyond rice. However, the problem in the agricultural technology transfer/dissemination process is that the highest demand rice knowledge for the maximum farmers has not been fully identified. Accordingly, a systematic effort must be undertake to categorize BRKB knowledge according to the priority interest of its several users.

AAS has established its training and information (TI) center at its zonal office at Srimangal in Moulvibazar district during 2004 with funding support from IRRI/DFID to provide electronic training services to extensionists and their client farmers as northeast Hub .

AAS conducted need assessment survey in order to include farmer’s demand-led rice knowledge issues in the BRKB content for the farmers of northeast region. From the survey on specific rice knowledge need assessment for BRKB content in Northeast region of Bangladesh , 15 major rice knowledge issues were found as the major demands for the farmers of this region. Under these 15 major rice knowledge issues, 56 specific rice knowledge issues what are they demanded were selected and categorized as 4 types of demands in Northeast region.

A pilot testing on BRKB content at community was conducted in 37 sessions. The BRKB content, concept and strategy seem to have been highly accepted at both the farmer and secondary stakeholders’ levels. Overall, the acceptability of rice knowledge learning through video show was fund to be unique way of knowledge dissemination. Both levels of stakeholders it was concluded that the future training for the farmers would be effective through multimedia presentation including well-designed picture-rich fact sheets, videos with folk songs, drama, documentary, live sample demonstration, open discussion etc on farmer demanded, specific rice knowledge.

Regional communication fair 2004: A two-day long regional communication fair on Agriculture technology was organized in Srimangal under the leadership of Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS). AAS organized the fair on behalf of the Northeast Focal Area Forum in collaboration with other stakeholders in the region, such as DAE, BRRI and BADC

Scientists, investigators and extensionists from BRRI, NGOs and DAE presented relevant research papers in different sessions. Farmers, beneficiaries, officials from Northeastern districts attended the fair and learned lot. Stalls of PETRRA sub-projects displayed communication materials in the form of poster, brochure, booklet, leaflet, video, painting etc for easy understanding of the audience. Through such events PETRRA was interested to communicate information on different innovations to its stakeholders including men and women resource poor farmers, GO-NGO policy makers and extension agents. The 2004 fair successfully brought together stakeholders from the northeast region. Apart from discussions and presentations, sub-project research innovations were presented in the form of Pots songs, Folk songs, Jari Gaan, Puthipath etc by the artists of GO-NGOs and cultural organizations from different districts led by different partner organizations.

 

Contract farming system

Recognizing the potential and benefits of contract farming arrangements in the agriculture sector, AAS took the important initiative for developing contract farming system aim at promoting increased production of commercial crops in general and seed in specific along with fish and livestock productions and creation of marketing avenues for the farmers. During last 10 years, AAS has developed contract farming model for seed production of inbreed and hybrid rice and non-rice crop varieties in Southwest and Northwest regions for private seed sectors. AAS has undertaken an initiative to produce seed of 10 types OP vegetables in Chuadanga and Meherpur districts for bulk seed market to involved seed companies and large seed dealers in all over the country.

Coastal agricultural production system

Recognizing the potentiality and benefits of coastal agricultural production system, AAS has taken initiative to introduce salt tolerant rice varieties in Southwest, South-central and Southeast coastal regions and suitable non-rice crop varieties and progress in found significant.

Study conducted on existing salt tolerant crop varieties at CDSP protected chars in southeast coastal region in collaboration with PRISM/CDSP. A crop menu developed with more than 50 crop varieties on farmers’ demand-driven basis for scale-up in protected chars of southeast coastal region.

Scale-up salt tolerant rice variety

AAS has implemented a project on scale-up salt tolerant rice variety through FARMSEED (Farmer-to-farmer seed exchange system) during 1 June 2008-31 October 2010 with 22 member NGOs of “Oitijhya” network in Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat and Pirojpur districts in south coastal region in the country under the funding support from STRASA (a project of IRRI funded by BMGF). BRRI dhan 41 (T.Aman) and BRRI dhan 47 (Boro) were demonstrated with 3469 farmers of which 1911 farmers during 2008 & 2009 T.Aman seasons and 1558 farmers during 2008-9 & 2009-10 Boro seasons at 125 Communities in Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat and Pirojpur districts. Besides, Oitijhya NGOs network, CBOs network established with 200 CBOs in Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat districts. Out 200 member CBOs of the network, 152 member CBOs were trained as active members of the CBOs network.

Based on the findings during 4 cropping seasons, it is absolutely evident that acceptability of both BRRI dhan 47 (Boro season) and BRRI dhan 41 (T.Aman) is as found frustrating among the farmers in Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat districts of southwest coastal region. It is also reported that farmers stored as seed from produced paddy at negligible proportion (3-7% during T.Aman and 0.5-4.24% during Boro season). Farmers were found very much reluctant to store as seed of their produced paddy of BRRI dhan 41 and 47 due to large number of reasons are expressed by the trained and motivated farmers in the project areas. Farmers’ comments were found towards disadoption of BRRI dhan 41 and 47 during T.Aman and Boro season in Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat districts. It is very obvious to note that the BRRI dhan 47 is not tolerable at moderately saline and strongly saline condition during the whole life cycle during Boro season. More over, BRRI dhan 47 has shattering and viviparous germination characteristics. On the other hand BRRI dhan 41 is failed to prove its superiority over the existing popular modern varieties such as BR 23, 11 etc during T. Aman season in southwest coastal region.

Large number of farmer’s innovations on successful Boro rice (eg. BRRI dhan 47) cultivation in salinity affected areas of Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat districts is documented. Such farmers’ innovations can be used for developing sustainable packages for successful Boro rice cultivation in salinity affected areas in coastal region of the country. Salt tolerant rice variety dissemination strategy needs to be developed through participation of innovative rice farmers in southwest coastal region. In this regards cost-effective, useful and user friendly salinity mapping (eg.GSI mapping) needs to be developed for both soil and irrigation water sources for southwest coastal region.

High value cash cropping in chars

Recognizing the potentiality and benefits of non-saline char agriculture, AAS has undertaken an initiative to introduce high value cash cropping in chars of Tista River in Lalmonirhat district through using participatory approaches and strategies under the collaborative drive with JOBS since January 2007. During last three years, AAS demonstrated about 30 crop varieties, of which about 13 crop varieties have been accepted at very high level. They are potato (Var. Granola) Carrot (Var: New Kuroda), Onion (Var: Taherpuri), Sweet gourd (Var: Baromasi), Okra (Var: Anamika), Maize (6 hybrids), Ground nut (Var: Dac-1), Cucumber hybrids and Country bean (Var: Local). Preliminary market linkages for the produced products have been development in Lalmonirhat district. Accordingly, involved char dwellers income has increased due to cultivation and marketing of the high value cash crops in Lalmonirhat district. However, such high value cash cropping strategy need to be disseminated among the char dwellers within and outside of demonstrated chars in Lalmonirhat districts. Moreover, such high value cash cropping strategy can be uptake in other non-saline chars of the country.

FARMSEED approach for non-rice crops

AAS developed FARMSEED approach has been using by farmers in general and resource poor farmers in specific for rice in AAS working districts. On the basis of FARMSEED success with rice, AAS has undertaken FARMSEED approach for non-rice OP varieties, such as Onion, Wheat, Mustard, Mujbean, Garlic, Potato and Brinjal from 2005 in its working districts in Southwest and Northwest regions. Acceptability of FARMSEED approach for tested crops has been found encouraging among farmers in general and resource poor farmers in specific. Accordingly, AAS has been planning to scale-up FARMSEED approach with most suitable crop varieties with long term donor funding support all over the country.

Benchmark study

AAS has implemented series of Benchmark survey since its inception in 1989. List of few important Benchmark surveys are provided in Annex. IX.

Impact study on plant clinic operation in Bangladesh

The performance and impact study on plant clinic operation was conducted by AAS in collaboration with RDA, Bogra, Shushilan Satkhira and CABI , UK . The study was designed to assess plant clinic operations, performance and impact in Bangladesh . The study was conducted with 350 respondents at 18 sites within the areas of influence of the 18 plant clinics of Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS), Rural Development Academy ( RDA ) and Shushilan. The study was conducted by Harun-Ar-Rashid, ED, AAS with staff of AAS, RDA and Shushilan. Field data was collected by Mr. Alok Kumar Biswas of AAS in collaboration with staff of AAS, RDA and Shushilan. The study was conducted during January-March 2010 in Natore (AAS), Bogra ( RDA ) and Satkhira (Shushilan) districts. Total of 350 farmers were interviewed, of which 230 from 12 plant clinics in Natore district with AAS, 60 from three plant clinics of Shushilan in Satkhira and 60 from three plant clinics of RDA in Bogra.

The 350 farmers surveyed received recommendations on 41 crops. The surveyed farmers brought in problems mainly for fruit and vegetables. Insects were high on the list than diseases. Total of 25 plant health problems diagnosed of seven vegetable crops in Natore with AAS, 23 plant health problems diagnosed of 12 vegetable crops in Satkhira with Shushilan and 27 plant health problems of 17 vegetable crops in Bogra with RDA . Similarly, 40 plant health problems diagnosed of 13 fruit crops in Natore, 12 plant health problems of five fruit crops in Satkhira and nine plant health problems of seven fruit crops in Bogra. The 18 plant clinics diagnosed 22 plant health problems with four spice crops in three districts. The plant clinics diagnosed 57 plant health problems with two cereal crops (rice and maize) in three districts.

Impact study on good seed initiative of WRC

In collaboration with Wheat Research Centre (WRC), Dinajpur, an impact study was conducted on wheat seed activities for good seed initiative (GSI) of WRC in Dinajpur, Thakurgoan, Panchagar, Nilphamari and Kurigram districts during July-October 2010. The study was conducted by Harun-Ar-Rashid, ED, AAS in consultation with Dr. Elahi Baksh, PSO, WRC, Dinajpur. Field data was collected by Mr. K.M. Alauddin of AAS in collaboration with staffs of partner NGOs, DAE and wheat farmers’ group leaders under the overall supervision of Harun-Ar-Rashid, team leader of the study team. Field data were collected through interviewing 302 respondents (151 from project village and 151 from control villages) followed by conducting focus group discussion (FGD) and interviewing staff of NGOs and DAE (SAAO) by the study team at 41 villages in 10 upazilas of five Northwestern districts.

Among the 151 project farmers, the highest number of farmers recalled as good quality wheat seed (75.50%) sown during 2009-2010 wheat cropping season followed by farmers recalled as moderate wheat seed quality (21.85%) and excellent wheat seed quality (2.65%). On the other hand, among the 151 non-project farmers, the highest number of farmers recalled as good quality wheat seed (65.56%) sown during 2009-2010 wheat cropping season followed by farmers recalled as moderate wheat seed quality (33.77%) and excellent wheat seed quality (0.66%). However, about 12% more project farmers used good and excellent quality wheat seed during 2009-2010 wheat cropping season than non-project farmers. On the other hand 18% more non-project farmers used moderate quality wheat seed during the same wheat cropping season.

A total of eight wheat varieties were cultivated by the responding project and non-project farmers in five northwestern districts during 2009-2010 wheat cropping season. Among those wheat varieties, Prodip and Shatabdi were found most popular at project villages. On the other hand, Shatabdi, Kanchan and Prodip were found most popular at control villages. The highest number of project farmers cultivated Prodip variety of wheat (37.09%) followed by Shatabdi (30.46%), Prodip/Shatabdi (15.23%), Sourav (4.64%) and rest varieties at minimum percentage with the users (farmers) at project villages. In contrast the highest number of non-project farmers cultivated Shatabdi (29.80%) followed by Kanchan (29.19%), Prodip (18.54%), Sonalika (11.92%), Sourav (5.30%) and rest varieties at minimum percentage with the users (farmers) at control villages.

The highest number of project farmers stored wheat seed in poly bag + synthetic bag (45.70%) followed by in plastic drum (31.13%) and do not store (23.18%). In contrast, only about 5.96% non-project farmers stored wheat seed in poly bag + synthetic bag, 1.99% non-project farmers stored wheat seed in plastic drum and 92.05% non-project farmers do not store wheat seed. A total of 118 farmers sown of their own saved wheat seed during 2009-2010 wheat cropping season, of which 106 were project farmers and only 12 were non-project farmers. Estimated average 61.24 Kg wheat seed was sown per farmer at project villages and average 51.33 Kg per farmer at control villages. Besides community based seed business, study team enlisted 30 common new income generating activities as expressed by 302 respondents at project and control villages in the study areas.

Study on hybrid rice in Bangladesh

Study on hybrid rice is conducted in collaboration with relevant public and private organizations under funding support from IFPRI during 1 July- 31 January 2011 . The study was conducted by a small group of experts which includes Harun-Ar-Rashid, AAS as collaborator, Dr. A.W. Julfiquar (Ex. head of hybrid rice Division & Director of BRRI) and Mr. Shajahan Ali (Seed Specialist).

From 1998-99 to 2009-10 a total of 85 rice hybrids have been released and notified in Bangladesh, out of which 80 come from private sector/NGO and 5 from public sector (4 from BRRI and one from BADC). Eight rice hybrids are developed in Bangladesh , of which 4 developed by BRRI, 2 developed by BARC and 2 developed by a private seed company. Out of 85 released rice hybrids, only 2 rice hybrids released for transplant Aman season. Thus, a total of 85 rice hybrids are available for commercial seed sale and seed production in Bangladesh . Most of these hybrids are sticky rice with amylose content less than 25% and most are also bold grain hybrids. From 1998 to 2010 a total of 44 organizations have been involved with hybrid rice technology transfer, seed selling and seed production in the country, of which private seed companies are recorded as highest (40) followed by NGOs (2), BRRI and BADC.

In 9 years from 1998-99 to 2007-8, hybrid rice area increased about 4263% (0.024-1.011 million ha) and subsequently, hybrid rice area decreased it peak in 2007-8 by 7% in 2008-9 and by 34% in 2009-10. Clean rice production from hybrid rice increased about 4368% from 0.11 million MT in 1998-99 to 4.8 million MT in 2007-8, before falling to an estimated 4.31 million MT in 2008-09 and 3.15 million MT in the 2009-10. Such change in area and production of hybrid rice it estimated at very higher percentage due to very low base. High rice yield is estimated with more or less similar trends from 1998-99 to 2009-10 between 4.59-4.75 t/ha

Currently, hybrid rice accounts for about 22% of total Boro rice or 9% of the total rice area of Bangladesh in 2007-8. Hybrid rice produced about 26% of the total clean rice harvested in the Boro season, and about 15% of the total clean rice produced in 2007-8. During 1998-2010, a total of 16.57 million MT of clean rice was produced through cultivating hybrid rice on a cumulative total of 3.54 million ha. Hybrid rice accounted for a net increase in production of clean rice of about 3.88 million during 1998-2010, sufficient to feed approximately 23 million people for a year. The additional rice production of 3.88 million MT contributed US$ 1,406 million (BDT. 97,000 million) to GDP during 1999-2010. In addition, a total of about 13,503 MT of hybrid rice seed was produced in the country on 5,478 ha of land during 1999-2010. Domestic production of hybrid seed saved about US$ 34 million (BDT 2,436 million) of foreign exchange. Moreover, production of hybrid rice and hybrid rice seed generated a lot of rural employment in the country,

Production of hybrid rice seed in Bangladesh increased from 47.56 MT in 1999-2000 to 3,600 MT in 2009-10 Boro seasons. Hybrid rice seed production area increased from 52.63 ha in 1999-2000 to about 1,200 ha in the 2009-10 Boro season. Average hybrid rice seed yield increased about 233%, from 0.99 t/ha to 3.00 t/ha from 1999-2000 to 2009-10 Boro seasons. As of 2010, the highest recorded hybrid rice seed yield in Bangladesh is more than 4.0 t/ha, which can be compared to a maximum yield of less than 1.3 t/ha achieved in 1999-2000.

Floating bed agriculture

Bangladesh is one of the worst affected among countries that are facing the early impacts of climate change particularly in agriculture sector. The coastal area of Bangladesh is naturally susceptible to disaster whereas climate change asserts a new depressing effect to the lives and agriculture. Increasing rates of sea level rise ( SLR ) caused by global warming are expected to lead to permanent inundation, drainage congestion, salinity intrusion and frequent storm surge inundation. Sea level rise is a growing threat for the coastal regions of Bangladesh . Estimated about 11% more land in the country’s south coastal regions will be permanently inundated over next century. However, farmers’ innovation on floating bed crop culture would be a crucial adaptation approach to fight the impact of climate change in south coastal regions.

Accordingly, AAS has undertaken a study on floating bed agriculture practices in Barisal and Pirojpur districts of south central coastal region. Floating bed is called by various names in southern coastal regions such as Dhap, baira, geto, gaota, vasoman chash etc. Floating bed agriculture is a popular practice of the low-lying areas of the south central region of Bangladesh where lands remain submerged most of the time in a year. Floating bed agriculture is more than 300 years old local knowledge based technology in south central coastal region. Floating bed is prepared by water hyacinth and other aquatic plants on the standing water body in river, canal, beel, crop field, pond, ditches etc for crop culture. It is prepared at the beginning and during monsoon for crop culture. Preparation techniques and management practices varies from location to location and farmers to farmers. It shape is rectangular, width is about 2m, depth is about 1m and length varies on many reasons.

The surveyed areas are highly vulnerable and population poverty is at higher level. On the other hand, year round crop production is not possible due to experience of standing water as natural event on the land for about 6-8 months (May-December) period with climatic disaster risk. Thus, crop production on floating beds is the only option during the disadvantage period of the year in the surveyed areas. Moreover, standing water in the surveyed areas is found as blessing element for the floating bed crop culture along with the availability of abundant crop residues for floating bed (locally called Dhap) preparation crop culture including seedling production. Farmers are raising seedlings and producing vegetables/spices for more than 30 crops. Most cases profitability from the produces (seedlings and crops) on floating bed is found much higher than the flood free plain land in the country.

Private innovation and R&D in Bangladesh agriculture

AAS in collaboration with Rutgers University under the funding support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation conducted the study on agricultural innovation and R&D in Bangladesh during 2009-10. The purposes of this study are: (a) to describe private introduction of agricultural technology, including private research; (b) to assess the impact of private technology on agricultural production, poverty, and the environment, and (c) to identify government policies and programs that effect private technology introduction.

For almost two decades, GOB has encouraged private agricultural innovation. Government and donors have established programs to assist private R&D, but there is room for improvement. Private organizations ask for financial assistance, collaboration, and educational support. Some regulations delay or block private innovations. Both private and public organizations are learning new ways to collaborate. For example, the Bangladesh Fertilizer Association publishes a soil science journal, providing a venue for government scientists to report research findings.

Private companies and NGOs introduce new technology in all agricultural sub-sectors. Technology transfer appears to have motivated in-country R&D. For example, in 1990, when Kushtia Seed Store imported and introduced the first maize hybrids from Thailand , the company had no trouble finding hybrids that would yield much more than available OPVs. Twenty years later, with scores of hybrids already in the market, companies systematically review available hybrids from foreign breeding; some also breed for desired characteristics. In this case, technology spill-in led to technology-based competition, motivating companies to invest in R&D. Companies and NGOs have been expanding their R&D efforts. Some vegetables cultivars from private breeding in Bangladesh have already been introduced into other regional countries.

In so far as farmers and consumers benefit from private agricultural innovation, these innovations have a public benefit. Because private organizations do not capture all of the benefits, they are not motivated to do the socially optimal amount of innovation and R&D. Thus, there are good reasons for government and donors to extend grants and other financial assistance for private agricultural innovation and R&D, and especially for innovations considered to have more social returns.

Improved Litchi orchard promotion

AAS has undertaken an initiative to scale-up improved Litchi orchard with high yielding export quality cultivars in Pabna and Natore districts. Accordingly, AAS provided a day long practical training to 40 selected owners of Litchi orchards from Ishurdi upazila of Pabna district on 14 April 2011 in collaboration with Redo-Mati-O-Manos Krishok Samobay Samity, BARI and BSMRAU. Each trainee has received a folder with production guidelines for Litchi and its plant health problems identification and their management practices faced by the Litchi orchard owners in their orchards. Trainers cum facilitators team has captured and documented Litchi growers’ innovations in Litchi orchard management practices for preparation a booklet on improved litchi orchard management system.

Woman-led vegetable and seed production

AAS has significantly contributed in good seed initiative (GSI) phase-I as an active partner. As per MOU between AAS and RDA, Bogra, AAS has been working on production, processing, storage and marketing of selected vegetable seed crops for ultra poor women in 4 isolated chars in Sariakandi upazila of Bogra district since inception of GSI phase-II under the funding support from CABI , UK . AAS assigned staff in collaboration of T MSS staff under the overall supervision of RDA Bogra implemented various pre-decided activities in selected Noyapara, Dighapara and Chakrothinath chars under Hatsherpur union in Sariakandi upazila of Bogra district, such as (i) Providing training to women on vegetable seed production, processing, storage and marketing; (ii) Providing source seed of the selected vegetable crops for seed production; (iii) Providing in field advice on vegetable seed production; (iv) Collecting farmers innovation for vegetable seed video production; (v) Assisting trained and motivated seed women at project chars for preparing plan on seed production and marketing; (vi) Assisting in vermicomposting and vermicompost use in vegetable seed production plots at project chars; (v) Conducting cost analysis for vegetable crop and seed production in collaboration with trained women seed producers at the project chars in Sariakandi upazila of Bogra district during 2010.

Farmers’ led yield maximization trial of rice hybrids

AAS has conducted farmers’ led yield maximization trial with five rice hybrids (AgroG2, Hira 2, BRRI hybrid dhan2, Aftab108 and SL8H) with a check BRRI dhan 28 with 10 farmers in Tala upazila of Satkhira district during 2010-11 Boro season. The average grain yield, yield contributing characters, field duration and important ancillary characters are collected, analysised and presented in the report. Overall, 5 rice hybrids performed better than the BRRI dhan 28, a local Inbred HYV. Average about 40% higher paddy was achieved of 5 rice hybrids over BRRI dhan 28. But acceptability of rice hybrids was found discouraging than BRRI dhan 28. This is due to lower paddy market price of 5 rice hybrids than BRRI dhan 28. All most all paddy of 5 rice hybrids sold in the market price due to its stickiness (low amylose content), low cooking and eating quality.

Operating fish hatchery

AAS has established a fish hatchery at Alampur in sadar upazila of Kushtia district in 1996 with AAS own fund to produce quality fish carp seed. AAS has been operating its fish hatchery at Alampur, Kushtia with trained fishermen on contractual agreement since 2000. Under such sub-contract system a total of 350-700 Kg quality hatchlings of five different carps has been produced and distributed among the resource poor fish farmers and fisherman with affordable price in Kushtia district during 1996-2010. AAS developed intensive fish fingerling and carp poly culture production and marketing strategy for the fish farmers and fishermen in Southwest Bangladesh .

Extension of aromatic rice

Although the rice cultivation in Bangladesh is dominated by coarse and long slender rice, there is a substantial demand for fine and aromatic rice. During PETRRA project implementation, BRRI dhan 34 was found to be very promising. Accordingly, AAS has under taken its extension all over the country since 2005 T.Aman season. However, AAS has been distributed Breeder certified, TLS and farmers’ saved seed of BRRI dhan 34 among the trained commercial farmers at 30 communities with 30 CBOs in Natore, Pabna and Sirajgonj districts for its commercial cultivation and quality seed exchange among farmers. AAS has developed linkages between the fine and aromatic rice producing farmers and millers on the basis of profit for the both.

Rice hybrid field trial

The farmers’ participatory field trial was conducted by AAS with 200 farmers on the selected rice hybrids released during 2008-9 at 20 villages with 20 CBOs in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj district and Gurudaspur and Baraigram upazilas of Natore district during 2009-10 Boro season in collaboration with BRRI, BADC, EAL, Supreeme seed, BRAC and ACI. The purpose of the farmers’ participatory rice hybrids field trials was to popularize the latest released rice hybrids among the farmers in Chalan beel of Natore and Sirajganj districts. Ten rice hybrids were selected for the field trial (Heera 6, Heera 4, AgroG1, AgroG2, BRRI hybrid dhan 2, SL-8H, BRRI hybrid dhan 3, BRAC-6, Shankar-3 and Mongol). Total of 500 gm seed was provided for each rice seed grower at selected 20 communities in Challan beel of Natore and Sirajganj districts. One trained farmer at each community received seed for only one selected rice hybrid (i.e. 20 farmers received for each selected rice hybrids at 20 communities in 2 districts). Germination test of seed of the selected ten rice hybrids were conducted by AAS after procurement and before distribution among the trained 200 farmers. The post established rice hybrids field trial plots were monitored by the field Agronomist of AAS. Farmers’ demand-led 20 field days were conducted at 20 communities in two project districts. This rice hybrids trial conducted with AAS resources, staff and facility.

AAS-PRICE Project Activities

PRICE (Poverty Reduction by Increasing the Competitiveness of Enterprises) is a USAID-funded economic development project in Bangladesh . Its mission is to reduce poverty by increasing the competitiveness in aquaculture, horticulture and leather sectors, particularly for the benefit of women, young adults and SME suppliers. To accomplish its mission PRICE undertakes interventions to address key constraints limiting the growth of sales, jobs and investments in the accepted 3 sectors in general. The major activities and achievements of AAS with PRICE supported horticulture and fishery projects during November 2009 to July 2011 are as follows:

(I) Horticultural Project

PRICE has worked during 1November 2009 to 30 July 2010 to achieve its mission through undertaking various interventions on horticulture sector for strengthening the value chain of the horticultural crop produces and their processing products. As per MOU, PRICE has worked with Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS) to address the constraints faced by commercial farmers under the AAS proposed project on “Demand-driven horticultural crop production and marketing” at 18 locations with 18 CBOs in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts. Accordingly, PRICE has assisted AAS in the training and motivation of 540 commercial farmers; helping them to organize commercial contract farming system in order to plan market driven production, increase unit yield and at the same time, improve the quality of horticultural produces by adopting environment friendly production practices. To implement the activities of the project, on Demand-driven horticultural crop production and marketing, PRICE has supported AAS, providing horticultural specialists and field supervisors to support 540 farmers in market driven production planning of high value horticultural crop production. However, PRICE has worked in collaboration with AAS to explore the potential for developing a flow of market information regarding the demand and supply of targeted horticultural products. PRICE has assisted AAS to support farmers for increasing productivity, minimize post harvest losses and access to market in producing commercial horticultural crops. The horticultural specialist has implemented training on improved cultivation techniques, farming management system, use of better inputs, adoption of environment friendly practices, better plant health management, post harvesting management/handling and establishing demonstration plots for showing best practices/introducing good agricultural practices and conducting field days in those.

Project Location: PRICE in collaboration with AAS has implemented the activities of accepted project on “Demand-driven horticultural crop production and marketing” at 18 communities in Natore (Baraigram, Gurudaspur and Lalpur upazilas), Pabna (Ishurdi upazila) and Rajshahi (Putia upazila) districts. Out of 18 working communities of AAS/PRICE project, 10 communities are in Natore district and 4 communities in each Pabna and Rajshahi districts.

Working team: Four members working team and additional staff of AAS in collaboration with group coordinators were undertaken the following interventions/activities under the overall supervision of Horticultural Specialist, PRICE and in consultation with the team leader, Horticulture, PRICE during the reporting period.

Commercial farmers’ group: PRICE has worked with 18 AAS developed commercial farmers groups in Natore (10 groups), Pabna (4 groups) and Rajshahi (4 groups) districts to implement the Demand driven horticultural crop production and marketing strategy since its inception. Each group was a group coordinator with 30 representative active members. Large numbers of farmers were involved with each group, who produced high value horticultural crops for marketing (540 group members & 2066 federation members). All groups were qualified to grow any potential and suitable high value horticultural crops through commercialized contract farming system with reliable buyers, those who are capable to procure the horticultural produces from farm gate using “farm to market” strategy.

Group meeting cum training: At the beginning of project intervention, working team and relevant AAS staff conducted the group meeting cum training at 18 communities in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts. Each group meeting cum training conducted in collaboration with group coordinators. Total of 681 farmers participated in 18 group meeting cum training at 18 communities in 3 project districts.

Constraints for Brinjal production and marketing: During group meeting cum training at 18 communities in 3 projects districts, facilitators documented the major constraints for Brinjal production and marketing on the basis of participated farmers’ comments and suggestions. Such major constraints are similarly applicable for other horticultural crops. The highest constraints were estimated with Plant health problems identification and management (5), Adulteration in fertilizers (5) followed by Soil health and its management (4), Brinjal marketing (4), Lack of field advice on production practices (4), Lack of knowledge on improved harvesting and post harvesting handling practiced (4), Irrigation facility and method (3) Produces transportation (2), Seed availability (2) and Working capital as least (1) at 18 communities in 3 project districts.

Selection of existing potential horticultural crops: At the beginning of the project intervention, AAS-PRICE’s working team enlisted the existing horticultural crops at 18 communities in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts during group meeting cum training. After enlisting the horticultural crops, potential crops were selected through farmers’ assessment using scaling (scale: 1-5) approach during group meetings and FGDs followed by validation at 18 communities in 3 project districts. Potentiality of horticultural crops were assessed at 18 communities in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts on the basis of their acreage, production, productivity, profitability, market demand, market access etc.

 

Safe pest management initiative: T he country is lagging behind in the development and implement of efficient, eco-friendly plant health management practices. It is an irony that in spite of the known serious consequences, pesticides, in most cases, still serve as the only method used in protecting crops from massive insect/pest-born losses. Pesticides are often used indiscriminately and at very high rates of application and very frequently without knowledge the actual purpose of the pesticide being applied. In order to protect high value non-rice crops from pest and disease damage, farmers are day-by day becoming increasingly dependent on the frequent use of dangerous and highly toxic pesticides with about 30-40% pesticides cost of the total production cost. Moreover, pesticide adulteration is an increasingly common experience among farmers. In most cases, farmers use pesticides in their crop fields on the basis of recommendations and advice from their local pesticide dealers. In general, the dealers, themselves are not professional crop/soil/pest scientists and thus we have a situation of the “blind leading the blind” with certain incentives for both farmers and dealers to advocate the use of inappropriate and/or excessive pesticide levels.

Thus, safe pest management (SPM) is found crucial for all type of crops in general and horticultural crops in specific for safe products consumption within and outside of the country. Safe pest management (SPM) concept includes several control methods and techniques including integrated pest management (IPM), use of sex pheromone, parasitoids releasing, Bio-pesticides use, cultural control, ecological control, biological control, resistant varieties use, use of physical and mechanical methods, use of various traps, destruction of crop residues and affected plants/plant parts, tillage, clean planting materials use etc. In this regards, the working team undertaken following interventions under the overall supervision of Horticultural Consultant, PRICE:

(i) Power Point Presentation ( PPP ) based farmers’ training: About 500 farmers participated at 4 power point presentation ( PPP ) based 4 hours training events at Manikpur, Khamar Pathuria Madrasha Para and Lakshimpur villages in Natore district. Power point presentation based training on safe pest management was found highly acceptable among the farmers in the project communities in Natore district. The PPP based training events were conducted by the senior Entomologist from BARI and safe pest management (SPM) specialist from Ispahani Biotech. Both the specialists conducted the ppp training events on SPM covering the pest such as Brinjal shoot and fruit borer (BSFB), fruit fly of gourds and fruits (e.g, jujube, mango etc). Such training events motivated the large number of farmers within and outside of the project communities .

(ii) Farmers’ participatory safe pest management training: Farmers’ participatory day-long safe pest management training implemented by AAS under the support from PRICE in collaboration with group coordinators at 18 communities at the selected venues in 3 project districts.. Day-long training was divided into two sessions, such as theoretical session and practical session. Both training sessions were conducted based on the guidelines developed by Ispahani Biotech in collaboration with BARI . Theoretical training session was conducted through using prepared Flip Chart and following participatory approaches all through the training session. Such farmers’ participatory training events on safe pest management conducted following with two methods such as (i) Sex pheromone trap use and (ii) Parasitoids releasing in crop fields for BSFB, fruit fly for gourds and fruits trees. On the other hand practical training session was conducted at Brinjal crop field through practical set-up demonstration on sex pheromone trap and releasing parasitoids (Tricograma and Bracon) in the Brinjal crop field.

A total of 989 farmers were participated at 18 training events on safe pest management at 18 project communities in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts. Out of 989 participants, 152 were female farmers. Most of the participated farmers showed their willingness to introduce safe pest management practices in their horticultural crop fields/orchards through field demonstration at their horticultural crops fields with in-field technical support at least for one cropping season. Moreover, trained farmers suggested for marketing the pesticide free safe horticultural products with better price from their crop fields.

(iii) Group Coordinators and dealers training: A day-long training conducted on safe pest management for horticultural crop production by AAS with funding and technical support from PRICE on 23 January 2009 at training room, AAS, Bonpara, Natore. Total of 21 participants attended at the day-long training course, of which 13 were group coordinators, 3 were agri-inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, seed etc) dealers (Natore & Rajshahi districts) and 5 staffs of AAS. Kdb. Md. Ibrahim Khalil, senior scientific officer, Ispahani Biotech conducted training through multimedia power point presentation ( PPP ) during theoretical session followed by practical session in the Brinjal crop field at Bonpara, Natore and Harun-Ar-Rashid, Executive Director,

(iv) Demonstration on safe pest management: AAS established 9 acres demonstration on safe pest management with sex pheromone trap and releasing parasitoids (Tricograma and Bracon) on brinjal shoot and fruit borer (BSFB) and fruit fly of Bottle gourd. Out of 9 acres demonstration, 8.5 acres was on BSFB at Khamar Pathuria Madrasha Para on 7.5 acres as block demonstration with 27 farmers and 1.0 acre as cluster demonstration with 5 farmers at Poschim Noyapara in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district. On the hand about 50 decimals demonstration plot was established on Bottle gourd at Dhala village in Lalpur upazila of Natore district.

(v) Plant health management initiative: Plant health problem’s diagnosis and management is reported as one the prime constraint for cultivation of high value horticultural crops at 18 working project communities in 3 project districts. Accordingly, 4 permanent plant clinics established at Khamar Pathuria Madrasha Para, Khamar Pathuria Akando Para, Manikpur and Dhulia in Natore district to provide plant health management services on demand driven basis.

On the basis of farmers demand from the communities, plant health management services provided at 4 plant clinics during January to December 2010 by plant doctor of AAS and plant health specialists from BARI and BSMRAU. Besides plant clinic operation a “Going Public” event was conducted at Purbo Noyapara Bazar in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district on 5 major plant health problems of Garlic and Onion. During operation of plant clinic and implementation of “Going public” about 900 participated farmers received prescriptions on their wanted plant health problems.

Vermicomposting: Vermicompost is composting utilizing various species of worms, specifically red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms creating the heterogeneous mixture of decomposing manures, vegetable, food waste, bedding materials and pure vermicast produced during the course of normal vermiculture operation. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by the species of earthworm. It contains water-soluble nutrients and bacteria; vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting. However, AAS in collaboration with PRICE was undertaken initiative in vermiculture cum vermicomposting with 20 farmers at project communities in Natore district as demonstration. Large number of farmers visited vermicomposting demonstration and showed their willingness to start vermicomposting with technical support and earthworms supply on cost basis. The working team undertaken motivational activities at 18 working communities in 3 working districts.

Farmers’ group coordinators and lead farmers training on Vermicomposting : Day training on vermicompost production and use was conducted by AAS in collaboration with PRICE at Training Room, Zonal Office, AAS, Bonpara, Natore on 29 May 2010 . Dr. Gul Hossain and Ms. Shonavan Begum, were provided both theoretical and practical training on vermicompost production and use during 9:30am to 4:30pm under overall facilitation of Harun-Ar-Rashid, Executive Director, AAS. A total of 26 farmers were participated in the day long training events on vermicompost production and use from AAS/PRICE working communities in 3 project districts. At the end of the day long training event, participants were developed an Action plan on vermicompost production at AAS/PRICE working villages in 3 working districts under the facilitation of Harun-Ar-Rashid, Executive Director, AAS on the basis of availability of efficient species of earthworms from reliable sources in the country.

Exotic crop varieties demonstration: AAS in collaboration with PRICE established 34 farmers’ participatory field demonstration plots with five exotic hybridscrops (Red Cabbage, Brocolli, Tomato, Bitter gourd and Khira) at Manikpur, Khamar Pathuria Madrasha Para and Lakshimpur villages in Natore district during 2010 Rabi season. Trained farmers received only seed of the involved crop varieties from AAS. Crop performance assessment has been conducting by the project staff. Both red cabbage and Brocolli were found as highly acceptable crops among the farmers at demo. villages and their surrounding villages at production side but other end of the market side farmers faced difficulties. However, Red cabbage and Brocolli can be grown at large scale in Natore district through establishing contract farming system with committed buyers from urban and up-scale urban markets in the country.

Soil analysis: To recommend the fertilizers doses for the involved horticultural crop production, representative 36 soil samples were collected from 18 project communities in Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts for analysis at reputed soil analytical laboratory in the country. Representative soil samples were collected by the project staff in collaboration with group coordinators and lead farmers at 18 communities in 3 project districts. Collected 36 soil samples were processed at AAS, office for analysis at reputed soil analytical laboratory in the name of representative farmers of the project communities of 3 project districts.

Lead farmer’s training on Brinjal production practices: Day-long farmers’ participatory training conducted on sustainable commercial Brinjal production practices by AAS in collaboration with PRICE on 10 January 2010 at training room, AAS, Bonpara, Baraigram, Natore. Total of 9 group coordinators and lead farmers participated in the participatory day-long training course from Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts. Six relevant field staff of AAS participated in the training course. The participatory training course was conducted by Specialists of PRICE and participatory approaches were followed during day-long training course on sustainable commercial Brinjal production practices. Day-long training on sustainable commercialized Brinjal production included various issues such as (i) Existing Brinjal cultivars and their cultivation period, (ii) Sustainable Brinjal production practices, (iii) Sustinable Brinjal seed production practices, (iv) Cost and return analysis for Brinjal production, (v) Safe pest management and (vi) Marketing channels for Brinjal produces for Natore, Pabna and Rajshahi districts. Compilation of the participatory training were incorporated in the production guidelines of Brinjal for conducting farmers’ training at project 18 communities in 3 districts on sustainable Brinjal production practices.

Training on zero-tillage Garlic production: Day-long farmers’ participatory training on zero-tillage garlic cultivation conducted at 6 communities in Gurudaspur and Baraigram upazilas of Natore district during the active project period. Total of day-long 6 events of farmers’ participatory training on zero-tillage garlic cultivation were conduced at 6 communities in Natore district where farmers are grown garlic in large scale using zero-tillage techniques. Zero-tillage garlic technology is the innovation of farmers in Natore district. Day-long training was divided into two sessions-such as (i) cultivation techniques along with cost of production analysis and (ii) crop health management. Project field supervisors and relevant field staff of AAS implemented the training on zero tillage garlic cultivation at 6 communities in Natore district. A total of 270 farmers (15 female farmers) were participated at day long 6 training events.

Field advices: Project working team, headed by horticultural specialist of PRICE provided in-field advices on (i) Brinjal production practices, (ii) Zero-tillage garlic production practices including plant health management; (iii) Plant health management on Onion production; (iv) Onion seed production practices including plant health management; (v) Nut weevil of Jujube. During field visit of the horticultural specialist and other team members distributed the prepared fact sheets on the major plant health problems of the above crops among the group coordinators and lead farmers at 18 project communities in 3 project districts.

Farmers training on Brinjal production and marketing: Before conducting farmers training, horticultural specialist of PRICE and working team collected relevant information on Brinjal production practices and techniques with existing cultivars in 3 project districts. Existing Brinjal cultivars and their production cycles of 8 communities are documented. Variety-wise sowing and transplanting period for 8 locations in 3 project districts and year round Brinjal production plan and tentative price (Tk./maund) with suitable cultivars of Brinjal are summarized. Farmers’ participatory day long training on sustainable Brinjal production techniques implemented by AAS in collaboration with PRICE at 11 communities in Pabna and Natore districts during April-May 2010. Total of day-long 11 events of farmers’ participatory training on sustainable Brinjal production techniques were conducted at 11 communities in 2 project districts. Before implementation of 11 day long training events on sustainable Brinjal production techniques, guidelines and flipcharts were prepared on sustainable Brinjal production techniques giving special emphasis on quality seedlings production, plant health management practices, year round Brinjal cultivation with locally adopted varieties, seed production practices and safe pest management. A total of 330 farmers were attended at day long 11 training events on sustainable Brinjal production techniques at 11 communities in Pabna and Natore districts.

Trichoderma introduction: Trichoderma spp. is most prevalent antagonistic soil fungi reproduce asexually by conidia born on phialides of branched conidiophores. The most important antagonistic mechanisms of the fungi are mycoparasitism, antibiosis and competition. Trichoderma spp. parasitizes a good number of soil-borne fungi and is used as bio-control agents against phytopathogeniic fungi, such as Phythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Verticillium. Trichoderma spp. play major role as biocontrol agents, owing to their capabilities of ameliorating crop-yields of multiple role, such as bio-pesticide and plant growth promotion. Accordingly, AAS in collaboration with PRICE was undertaken an initiative to demonstrate healthy seedlings production of Brinjal among the PRICE trained farmers in Pabna and Natore districts through treating the seedbed soils. Monitoring on seedbed was undertaken through using developed format. Performance of Trichoderma on healthy seedlings production of Brinjal was summarized by the project staff and not found acceptable among the demonstrated farmers.

(II) Fishery Project

In Bangladesh fish is an integral part of the diet and accounts over 70% of the animal protein intake of the country population. Annual average consumption of fish amounts to some 7.5 Kg/ capita. The fisheries sector of Bangladesh account for about 4% of the GDP and for more than 4% of the export earnings, it provides employment for over 1 million people. Presently pond fish culture plays significant role in national fish production mostly through carp poly-culture fish farming. Most of the fish farmers of the country are very much lack in knowledge on improved fish culture techniques to achieve higher fish production per unit water body. Accordingly, practical training on improved pond fish culture is crucial for the involved fish farmers all over the country. As per MOU between PRICE and AAS, fish farmers training programme has been undertaken to improve key production and management practices for improved pond fish culture in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district during 1 July- 31 December 2010 .

Before imparting the training on improved pond fish farming, working team of AAS and PRICE formed 10 fish farmers groups as 10 CBOs at 10 pond fish farming clusters in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district. Each group formed with 50 fish farmers from the same community with a fish farmer group coordinator. Thus, 500 commercial fish farmers’ from10 Machh Chasi Groups as 10 CBOs are involved with AAS-PRICE aquaculture project activities in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore districts with 10 group coordinators.

quaculture expert in collaboration of other members of the working team conducted day-long training on improved pond fish farming system management at the involved 10 project communities in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district. Each group has received 3-days training on improved pond fish farming system management. Three-days training course covers various demand-led relevant issues such as (i) Pre-stocking fish pond preparation/management; (ii) Stocking management practices; (iii) Post stocking management and (iv) Inputs supply and output marketing strategy. Both theoretical and practical events were included in the improved pond fish farming management. Aquaculture expert also conducted pre and post evaluation with the participated fish farmers before and after execution of the training. Total of 500 enlisted fish farmers from 10 Machh Chasi groups in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district participated in 3-days training course on improved pond fish farming management during 1 July-31 December 2010. Out of 500 participants of the training, 7 were female fish farmers from 10 Machh Chasi groups in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore district.