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AAPI NEWS BULLETIN Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) Volume 15

A project supported by USAID in collaboration with DAE Notes from Chief of Party, AAPI

Inside this issue:

Women’s Important Role in Rice Production


Results from the Boro Harvest


Local Union Shows that There is Strength in Numbers in Extending Guti Urea – A Model for Farmers


Activity Achievements in May 2012


BRRI and AAPI Collaborate on New Research


AAPI Events in June 2012


AAPI News Bulletin is a monthly publication of the AAPI project. Subscriptions are free. IFDC is a Public International Organization (PIO) based in Alabama, USA. IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries. Managing Editor: Ishrat Jahan Resident Representative IFDC Bangladesh Eurasia Division and Project Coordinator, AAPI Design and Layout: Syed Afzal Hossain Data Management Unit, AAPI

The Boro harvest is drawing to a close. It has been a busy time for all staff. We have held 58 field days to display the results of our demonstrations and trials. By all reports the Boro harvest has been impressive. The press is reporting a “bumper harvest” for Boro. However, this year the rice prices are low and coupled with labor costs, fertilizer costs, irrigation costs, the farmers are not realizing the returns they might have expected from such a good harvest. This is where our technology can make a difference. Our crop cuts are showing a yield increase of over 1 ton paddy/hectare (ha) for urea deep placement (UDP) technology. Our block survey is reporting a 37% saving on urea. If farmers can use less seed by using good quality seed, less urea by applying UDP, less water by applying alternate wetting and drying (AWD) and increase their yield, their margins will be better. The Aus season is getting underway and our farmer training, stakeholder workshops and motivational field visits are proceeding to prepare farmers for adoption of UDP technology in the Aus intensive areas. As always the sale of briquette machines and the training for the small businesses are keeping ahead of the demand to ensure there is adequate supply of Guti urea.

May 31, 2012

In this issue our Gender Specialist, Ms Rubina Islam has written about the role of women in rice production. It is often said that women are not involved in rice production but as Rubina’s article points out their role in seed preservation and post harvest technology is critical to family food security. We also have an article from our Business Management Specialist, Mr Nurul Islam describing our relationship with the society, Adorsho Chashi Unnayan Samity and Adorsho Chashi Federation to promote Guti urea. *** US Ambassador Visits Urea Briquette Shop in Dumuria, Khulna On May 10, U.S. Ambassador Dan W. Mozena visited the briquette shop of Mrs. Supriya Mallick in the Kathaltata Bazaar of Dumuria Upazila, Khulna District. She is a housewife and an entrepreneur; her husband is both a fertilizer sub-dealer and farmer. Mrs. Mallick attended an AAPI project farmers’ training program where she learned that AAPI is helping rural entrepreneurs, especially women, engaging them to establish small businesses by providing the Guti urea briquette-making machines at a reduced price. She purchased the machine with the assistance of the AAPI field staff and the field staff of

The views expressed in this bulletin do not necessarily reflect views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government

AAPI NEWS BULLETIN AAPI News Bulletin Contact Persons: Ishrat Jahan Grahame D. Hunter Address: Dhaka Office: Road No. 62, House No. 4B, Apt-B2 Gulshan - 2, Dhaka -1212 Bangladesh Tel: 880-2-9894288 880-2-8817391 Fax: 880-2-8826109 Website:

Volume 15 the Bangladesh Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in December 2011. She recovered her initial investment of Tk. 38,000

within one season and is expecting to make more profits in coming seasons.  ***

Barisal Office: “Zohora” 834 (New) Police Line Road, Barisal Tel: 0431-2176566 Jessore Office: 1351 Police Line Road Talikhola, Puraton Kasba Jessore Tel: 0421-60986 AAPI Management: Ishrat Jahan, Project Coordinator; Grahame D. Hunter, Chief of Party; Md. Mofizul Islam, Sr. Agriculture Specialist; Dr. Shaharuk Ahmed, Md. Fozlul Hoque, Md. Iqbal Hossain, Dr. Badirul Islam, Agriculture Specialists; Md. Shamsul Alam, Abul Hossain Mollah, Mahmood Hussain, Dr. AKM Farhad Training Specialists; Dr. Md. Abdul Mazid Mia, Mainul Ahsan, Soil Scientists; Md. Nurul Islam, Market/Business Development Specialist; Ram Proshad Ghosh, Mechanical Engineer; Dr. Abdul Wohab, Agriculture Engineer; Rubina Islam, Gender Specialist; Syed Afzal Mahmood Hossain, Senior Data Management Specialist; Farin Islam, M&E Specialist; AFM Saleh Chowdhury, Chief Accountant; Bishnu Rup Chowdhury, Administrative and Procurement Officer

Supriya Mallick explains the business and benefits of Guti urea to Ambassador Mozena and his wife. Left to right: Ambassador Dan W. Mozena; Ms. Ishrat Jahan, AAPI project coordinator and IFDC resident representative; Mrs. Mozena; and briquette shop owner, Mrs. Mallick.

Women’s Important Role in Rice Production The AAPI project has a target of 20 percent participation by women in all its activities. This is expected to increase to 50 percent for vegetable production and 100 percent for homestead gardens. One of the AAPI project’s strategies is to generate family and community acceptance of women’s participation in agriculture. AAPI promotes the education of women farmers in modern agricultural technologies and ensures that women have equal access and benefits. The project is working to increase women’s effectiveness in rice production, ensure food security at the 2

household level and assist women to establish entrepreneurial enterprises through urea briquette machine purchase and briquette manufacturing. The women of Bangladesh are very much involved in farm activities. However, their efforts are more often in the household and less often in the field. One will not find many women tilling the fields, preparing seedbeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, applying fertilizers or managing irrigation. But certainly, when the crop is ready for harvesting, it is the female farmer who rises to the task. Many experts estimate that about 80 percent of post-harvest activities are managed by Bangladeshi women.


Volume 15 they use dry Neem leaf or tobacco leaf. Similarly, for the processing of grain, it is the women who are involved in winnowing, drying and storage. With larger volumes, bamboo baskets are often used. With the harvest of the Boro crop almost complete, here are some tips for post harvest technology:  Thresh carefully to ensure no grain is left on the panicle.  Winnowing should separate the grain from the straw to allow better drying of the grain.  Begin drying the grain immediately after threshing and winnowing.

Women farmers winnowing paddy at Rajoir upazila.

 Grain should be dried to 14 percent moisture content (12 percent for seed); the grain should be hard to the bite.

AAPI encourages and is working to enhance women’s understanding of modern technologies, including the benefits of improved seed, water management and conservation, balanced doses of fertilizer and UDP techniques. AAPI believes that if men and women have equal access to this knowledge, share in the farming decisions and work together, then food security will be dramatically increased. It is commonly understood that given the socio-cultural context of the nation, women may never be fully engaged in all field activities. However, the important role that women have traditionally played in agriculture should be emphasized. For example, their role in seed production and preservation and post harvest technology are crucial tasks in rice production. If seed is of poor quality or if paddy is not dried, cleaned and stored properly, then losses will be high and food security will be compromised. If women have access to better technology, they can contribute immensely to increased productivity by ensuring the preservation of higher-yielding seed varieties and the proper drying and storage of grain.

 Drying on mats is more hygienic and helps prevent the accumulation of soil and stones.  Spread the grain in layers about 2-4 cm thick.  Turn the grain regularly (at least once per hour) to allow uniform drying. -

If the grain is not turned or if the layer is too deep, the temperature can build and the grain will crack, increasing the content of broken grain after milling.

 In the mid-day sun, the temperature can be excessive; the grain should be shaded to prevent over-heating.  Quickly cover the grain if it begins to rain.  When storing, choose a clean, dry space that is protected from rodents, animals and birds. - Rice can absorb moisture from the atmosphere and attract mold, insects and rodents, leading to losses.

Traditionally, it is the men who select the varieties and produce the seed. Winnowing, drying, grading and sorting of seeds (and grain) are activities carried out by the women in the farm family – but their traditional methods are not always the most efficient or productive, and seed and grain quality can deteriorate as a result. In terms of seed preservation, women select the container, such as plastic jars, clay pots, metal boxes or cans. To protect the seeds from insects,

 Hermetic storage (completely airtight) is most effective. It will maintain the moisture content and suffocate all biological activity. Insects will die without oxygen. No pesticides are required. -

Hermetic storage can be achieved with sealed plastic bags, drums, bins and containers. ***



Volume 15 Obituary

We lost Kh. Makbul Elahi, our Senior Field Coordinator for ever on the way to his heaven in the evening of May 15, 2012 at the age of 46; who breath for last in the United Hospital, Dhaka. May Almighty Allah rest him in peace. Elahi joined IFDC in early 1990s and was always found very serious in his work. We, in IFDC Bangladesh have lost one of our best colleagues and truly a nice person with a beautiful mind and a great heart. He was a dedicated and sincere staff member of IFDC Bangladesh for the last two decades. Elahi survived by his wife, son and daughter and a host of relatives and friends to mourn this irreparable loss.

June 25, 1966 – May 15, 2012.

Results from the Boro Harvest The results for the Boro harvest are still coming in. The table below shows UDP delivers an average saving of 37% over the farmers’ practice of broadcast urea in the Feed the Future (FtF) districts. The variability between districts is not great as indicated from the coefficient of variation (CV). Farmers consistently adhere to the recommended dose of Guti urea (167 kg/ha) but in their own practice the dose varies from 225 kg/ha in Patuakhali to 287 kg/ha in Narail. Guti Urea Applied (Kg/Ha) Bagerhat 168 Barguna 166 Barisal 165 Bhola 167 Chuadanga 167 Faridpur 167 Gopalganj 167 Jessore 167 Jhalokathi 167 Jhenaidah 167 Khulna 166 Madaripur 167 Magura 166 Meherpur 166 Narail 167 Patuakhali 165 Pirojpur 167 Rajbari 168 Satkhira 167 Shariatpur 167 Total FtF Districts: 167 CV (%): 1.38 Source: AAPI Block Survey, Boro 2012 District

Broadcast Urea Applied (Kg/Ha) 269 244 240 282 262 292 246 277 284 283 244 282 258 247 287 225 245 287 268 271 267 9.92


Urea Savings (Kg/Ha) 101 79 75 115 95 124 79 110 116 116 78 114 91 81 120 60 78 119 101 105 100

% of Urea Savings 37 32 31 41 36 43 32 40 41 41 32 41 35 33 42 27 32 42 38 39 37


Volume 15

Local Union Shows that There is Strength in Numbers in Extending Guti Urea – A Model for Farmers

The group now purchases high quality seeds, various fertilizers and pesticides directly from reputable companies and distributes the agroinputs to farmers at a five percent profit. “We make some profits, but that is not our purpose. Other than quality inputs, we provide advice to the farmers in need of support,” said Solaiman, now secretary of the society. At the shop, they have created a soil-testing laboratory. A number of society members were trained to test local soils and provide inputs recommendations. Farmers seeking to know their soil quality and composition can have samples tested at the shop and learn about the balanced fertilizer use for various crops.

Mohammad Solaiman and five other farmers once sold vegetables at prices well below market value through local brokers in Charfasson upazila in Bhola. They accepted this practice as the norm, because they believed that they did not have the power to negotiate for better prices. They were required to pay commissions to these brokers, known locally as Faria. One day in 2005, the farmers learned that traders had great demand for vegetables, but area farmers could supply only a small portion of the need. Solaiman, age 40, and his fellow farmers believed that they could finally earn more if they could simply produce more vegetables. They encouraged other farmers to join them as a group in farming vegetables. It was a bold attempt that worked.

A significant role that the society plays is helping their farmers better market their produce. “We ask them to grade the vegetables. Better quality produce always has high demand. The brokers pay higher prices for graded vegetables,” Solaiman said. “We also introduce the farmers to reputable brokers,” he said. The association also buys vegetables directly from its members and sells those large quantities to retailers and wholesalers so that their farmers receive competitive prices. In addition, the association procures agricultural equipment and insect traps and distributes those among the farmers. With the help of the company Grammen Shakti, the association even connects farmers with bio-gas plants, solar energy equipment and improved stoves that help improve farmers’ living standards.

Early on in this effort, when they went to purchase polythene bags for vegetable packaging, the shopkeeper offered bags at two prices – a higher retail price if they bought low quantities and a lower wholesale price if they bought large quantities. They chose to buy the bags on a wholesale basis and shared them among other farmers who needed them. This lesson in purchasing in bulk demonstrated the power of a group, rather than the individual, and inspired the farmers to create a formal fund for their common good. This was the beginning for the cooperative society known as Adarsho Chashi Unnyan Samiti (Model Farmers Development Association) with its six members in 2006. After three months, the fund was Tk 2,400 (about US $29). But they were still buying seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from the traders, so they asked themselves why their Association could not start a business that supplied all of these necessary farm inputs.

The non-government organization (NGO), International Development Enterprise (IDE), often arranges farmers’ workshops and invites the society’s members to train other farmers. United Leasing Company has used the society as a network to provide loans to the farmers. The association also assists ASA, a micro-financing institution (MFI) and NGO based in Dhaka, in providing loans that allow farmers to purchase agro-inputs. The short-term loans are paid back after the harvest.

The idea took concrete shape after a number of farmers discovered that a dealer of a seed company cheated them by providing low standard, bitter gourd seeds that they had put in a branded company’s packet. This both angered and spirited the farmers to become united. Subsequently, they collected shares of Tk 1,000 (about $12) from 101 farmers and rented a shop at Purba Kachabazar. The society’s capital now is about Tk 10 lakh (about $12,200) and has 1,450 members across the upazila.

Inspired by the efforts of Adarsho Chashi Unnyan Samiti, many more farmers are now engaged in vegetable production in Charfasson, where 14,000 hectares (ha) of land have come under vegetable production. Large quantities of cucumbers and watermelons are now exported to other districts. About 25 percent of these producers belong to the association. 5


Volume 15 discuss the benefits of Guti urea in monthly meetings, which helps to motivate the farmers.

The most exciting technology that the group has introduced in Charfasson is UDP, known locally as Guti urea, this Boro season. The association purchased a urea briquetting machine that produces the UDP fertilizer through the AAPI project. The project – implemented by IFDC – provided training on the technology prior to the cropping season. With the association’s strong network of farmers, spread of the technology was rapid; about 5,000 farmers are using an estimated 250 metric tons of Guti urea in this first Boro season. Using the urea briquetting machine, the cooperative converts prilled urea into Guti urea briquettes for its members in exchange for Tk 2 (US 2.4 cents) per kilogram.

The society’s chairman Abdus Sattar noted that two-thirds of fertilizer is wasted when they broadcast prilled urea over their crops, a traditional method used by farmers. Guti urea is reducing this high wastage, which has inspired the organization such that farmers are now beginning to use UDP technology on more vegetable crops as well as rice. Abdus Sattar said that they have earned their farmers’ trust with UDP, so they can easily convince other farmers to use Guti urea. The union plans to purchase another briquetting machine from IFDC and AAPI in the near future to meet the growing demand for the UDP technology.

“We, the members of the Samiti, used Guti urea and established a number of demonstration fields. Other farmers followed us. As yields in Guti fields were better, all are very happy,” Solaiman said. Farmers in the area are also applying urea briquettes in water pumpkin, cucumber, brinjal, tomato, green chili, dhundul, bitter gourd, yard long bean and sweet gourd production. They

“Many foreigners have come to visit us. They have often stated that we are a model for other farmers,” Solaiman said. ***

Activity Achievements in May 2012 In May 2012, AAPI successfully completed activities as shown in the following table. Indicator


Achievement in May 2012

Achievement Total to date





% of Target

Aus season UDP coverage for Aus



Extension staff training





Farmer Training






Rice field demonstrations






Other crop demonstrations





Rice Trials






Other crop trials



Motivational field trips






Stakeholder workshops






Sale of briquette machines






Briquette producer training






Boro season harvest Rice demonstration harvest






Rice trial harvest






Field days (demos and trials)






Crop cuts in farmer fields






*** 6


Volume 15 Abdul Mazid Miah, IFDC soil science specialist. Dr. Md. Abdul Jalil Mridha, Head of the Agronomy Division, presided over the NPK program and Dr. Abdul Latif Shah, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of the Soil Science Division presented at the GHG program. A total of 70 senior male and female scientists [ Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Principal Scientific Officer (PSO), Senior Scientific Officer (SSO) and Scientific Officer (SO)] from BRRI and Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) were present at both programs.

BRRI and AAPI Collaborate on New Research National agricultural research organizations in Bangladesh have long played an important role in agriculture development in the country. AAPI is collaborating with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) on activities related to fertilizer deep placement in two important areas that impact sustainable improvement in agriculture production. The first is the validation of fertilizer deep placement (FDP) technology that will allow the preparation and sale of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) combined (referred to as NPK) into single briquettes as an approved technology in Bangladesh. The second is the implementation of the trials under the USAID Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) to monitor ammonium-N in floodwater with UDP technology versus conventional fertilizer broadcast application and to measure the reduction in N losses to the atmosphere.

Researchers pose for a photograph at the GHG Field Day in May.

*** AAPI Events in June 2012 In the month of June 2012, AAPI is concentrating its activities for Aus paddy and finalizing results of Boro 2012. In this month, the following activities will be carried out.

Visitors inspect rice at the NPK Field Day in May

       

AAPI staff participated in recent field days at the BRRI headquarters in Gazipur for the harvest of the Boro trials for both NPK deep placement technology and the planning of the GCCI-related activities. The field days for the NPK research activities and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trials were held at the agronomy research field on May 16 and May 24, 2012, respectively. The Director General of BRRI, Dr. Md. Syedul Islam was present as Chief Guest on both occasions. Special guests in attendance were Dr. Md. Shamsher Ali, Director of Research, BRRI; Dr. Jiban Krisna Biswas, Director of Administration, BRRI; and Dr. Md.

180 batches of training for Aus farmers 1 stakeholders workshop 1 batch of briquette producers training 20 demo establish 4 trial establish 15 briquette machine sale Finalize Aman Work Plan Completing block survey report, gross margin report and crop cut analysis ***



Volume 15


AAPI News Bulletin, Vol 15 English