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AAPI NEWS BULLETIN Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) Volume 20

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

Inside this issue:

AWD Technology– An Important Message


Women-led Workshops on Guti Urea


Use Guti Fertilizer, Create Jobs


Activity Achievements September 27 to October .24, 2012


AAPI Events in November 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 Aman activities are complete until harvest begins later in November 2012, and all AAPI staff have been active in motivational activities for Boro season. Farmer trainings, motivational meetings with the early technology adopters, motivational field trips, stakeholder workshops and open sky shows were all in operation this month. The vegetable crops have started planting and we are looking for substantial increases in the adoption of urea deep placement (UDP) in these vegetable crops. In this bulletin, you will find articles prepared by Mr. Mainul Ahsan, AAPI Soil Scientist, who has looked at the long-term impact of UDP on soil health. Mr. Fozlul Haque, AAPI Agriculture Specialist, has prepared a message to those interested in practicing Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) technology. Ms. Rubina Islam has written an article on the special workshops designed to increase women’s participation in AAPI activities. There is also a story on the impact that AAPI is having on the lives of rural laborers. ***

October 31, 2012

Deep Placement of Urea Briquettes Increase Organic Matter, Nitrogen Content and Nutrient-Holding Capacity in Soils: A Case Study In Bangladesh, it is well known that the deep placement of urea briquettes (Guti urea) into flooded soil shortly after transplanting rice is an innovative yet simple technology that increases crop yields as well as nitrogen (N) use efficiency. Numerous studies have shown yield increases, reduced N losses and increased N fertilizer efficiency on deep-point placement of urea briquettes (at a depth of 7-10 cm between four hills of transplanted rice). Recently, one investigation by AAPI scientists revealed that longterm adoption of UDP technology not only increases crop yields, but also soil organic matter, nitrogen content and nutrient-holding capacity. The benefits of UDP were first demonstrated by IFDC in collaboration with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) and other partners in Asia more than 30 years ago. The technology had limited adoption; even though it was recommended for dissemination in the

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: 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

Volume 20 national workshop held at Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC) in 1985. This has been attributed to the lack of availability of urea briquettes during that period, an issue that has been decisively addressed in the AAPI project. Recent investigation by AAPI scientists has revealed that some progressive farmers at Chala Atia in Delduar and Bhabanipur in Kalihati (upazila of Tangail district under Old Brahmaputra floodplain [AEZ-9]) have been using urea briquettes in their rice fields for about 20 years on a continuous basis. At present, there is very little promotion of UDP technology in this district. This is a unique situation where a great deal of scientific data can be derived on the long-term effects of sustained UDP technology use over the last 20 years. Interviews with several farmers of that area indicated that their perceptions of the benefits of UDP technology were very clear. They believe that they always get good yields in rice crops using urea briquettes compared with broadcasting urea. This site was chosen to measure

the impact of long term UDP technology adoption on soils through the characterization of soil samples. Within the area, the major cropping pattern is Boro/fallow/transplanted (T) Aman. The farmers interviewed explained that rice (Boro) yields increased about 20-25 percent under UDP compared with broadcast ureaapplied plots. The dominant land type was medium high land. Soil textures range from silt loam to silt clay. In May 2012, 30 soil samples were collected by AAPI scientists from sites with and without the use of UDP technology. The samples were analyzed by the Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI) following standard procedures. The results showed that in the topsoil organic matter, total N and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) increased in UDP plots compared with that of broadcast (Bdcst) urea plots. This is shown in the following Table. Soil Organic Matter- The organic matter status in topsoil of broadcast urea-applied plots ranged between 1.01 percent and 2.35 percent, but in

Comparative Analytical Data of Soil Samples Collected from UDP and Broadcast (Bdcst) Urea Plots in Tangail No. of soil samples

Depth in cm







Land Characteristics

Medium high land (Flooded by rain water 25-30 cm 2-3 months)


OM (%)

N (%)

UDP Plots 6.77.9

Bdcst Plots 6.37.6

UDP Plots 2.423.43

Bdcst Plots 1.012.35

UDP Plots 0.180.26

Bdcst Plots 0.050.20













OM = Organic matter; N= Total nitrogen; Method Applied: N = Kjeldahl method; OM = Wet oxidation method 2


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the case of the UDP plots, organic matter status was between 2.42 percent and 3.43 percent. It is assumed that better management and efficient use of N fertilizer has led to a higher amount of total biomass and a larger number of tillers produced in urea briquette plots compared with broadcast urea plots. Decomposition of a larger volume of left over stubble may also produce more organic matter.

AWD Technology– An Important Message Water is a crucial input for the production of rice, the main staple food of the people of Bangladesh. However, the water requirement for rice production is quite high; about 3,000-5,000 liters of water is required to produce one kilogram (kg) of rice under current farmer practice. The present system of rice cultivation, especially Boro rice, primarily depends on irrigation from underground water sources. The exploitation of underground water is increasing every year. In the recent years, rain-fed Aus rice cultivation has also required full irrigation in some areas due to a shortage of rainfall and changing climatic behavior. For the same reason, the monsoon rainfed Aman also occasionally requires supplementary irrigation, mostly water taken from an underground source. This underground water is being depleted at an alarming rate. A recent study reported by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) revealed that the water table of the Dhaka city area is about 170 feet below sea level; it is 18-20 feet below sea level in Rajshahi. This is an alarming sign for the country’s farmers, and the people as a whole. Many shallow tube wells (STWs) do not supply enough water for this extensive irrigation.

Soil Nitrogen - Total soil nitrogen in the top soils of broadcast urea-applied plots ranged from 0.05 percent to 0.20 percent, but in the case of the UDP plots, soil nitrogen was 0.18 percent to 0.26 percent. The amount of total nitrogen remaining in soil was relatively higher in UDP plots than broadcast urea plots. It is assumed that after deep placement of the urea briquettes, nitrogen begins to move from the concentrated site to the surrounding soil by diffusion. There is more opportunity created for the ammonium form of the nitrogen to be fixed at exchange sites of clay and organic matter colloids. Coupled with organic matter, the nitrogen in its different forms remains in the soil. Nutrient-Holding Capacity- One of the measures that scientists use to explain the ability of a soil to hold nutrients is CEC. Soils with higher CEC will be able to hold more nutrients. This plays a positive role in increasing soil fertility as well as soil productivity. CEC in the top soils of broadcast urea plots ranged from 16.8 cmol/kg to 20.8 cmol/kg. However, in the case of UDP plots, CEC was 17.6 cmol/kg to 22.4 cmol/kg. Soil texture (relative proportion of sand, silt and clay particles) relates to CEC. Topsoil soil texture in UDP plots ranged from silty clay loam to silty clay, but in the case of broadcast urea plots, it ranged from silt loam to silty clay. Higher amounts of clay content and organic matter in UDP plots might be responsible for higher CEC as well as higher N.

Therefore, water conservation has become a very high priority for the government as well as development agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. All must take the matter seriously and act accordingly. According to recommendations from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), it is not necessary to keep a paddy field flooded for the full crop cycle. Rather, paddy plants can take only what is necessary if moisture is available near the root zone of the plant. According to rice scientists, the irrigation requirement can be reduced to 1,300-1,600 liters through the use of AWD technology.

This work is only a preliminary investigation and a more systematic scientific detailed investigation is warranted.

AWD is a technique for applying water according to the level of soil saturation in the root zone. As a water level measuring tool, perforated pipes are

*** 3


Volume 20 disseminate the technology to the farmers in the northern districts.

inserted into the soil to a depth of about 15 centimeters (cm). Water levels (soil saturation) can be observed by looking through the top of each pipe. When water is no longer visible at the bottom of the pipe, re-irrigation is necessary. Our April 2012 newsletter gave the specifications for these pipes. We recommend a perforated plastic pipe of 7-10 cm in diameter and 25 cm long with holes (perforations) in the bottom 15 cm of the pipe. The distance from one hole to another should be 5 cm. The perforated portion should be placed in the rice field to allow water to flow into and out of the pipe.

AAPI-IFDC has undertaken an AWD demonstration program, along with Guti urea, to help farmers minimize input costs and enhance the yields of irrigated rice through the combined use of the two technologies. Last year, AAPI-IFDC established 29 AWD demonstrations in different locations of the country and created significant impacts and awareness among the farmers in the AAPI districts. This year, AAPI-IFDC will implement 35 AWD demonstrations along with more promotional activities to reach even more farmers during Boro season.

For those using AWD for the first time, here are some useful tips:


 Install the perforated pipes to a depth of 15 cm at one week after transplantation while the field is flooded. Clean all the soil from inside the pipes. Place about 9 pipes per acre. The water level in the pipes will represent the depth of saturation.     Allow the field to dry until there is no free water seen in the pipe.     Apply irrigation until the field is flooded to a depth of 5 cm.     Continue the drying and wetting cycle until flowering. 

Women-led Workshops on Guti Urea The increased participation of women in project activities is one of the key objectives of AAPI. To achieve this goal, the project initiated a new venture called the Women-led Workshop on Guti technology during its scale-up program in the project areas. The workshops’ objectives were to involve women at different levels in the community; identify their roles and responsibilities in the community; increase family income through labor cost savings; and increase the empowerment of women.

   If weeds become a problem, the field can be maintained in a flooded state for two weeks.     At flowering stage, the field should be kept flooded until grain filling, when the AWD cycle can be reinstated.   

Keeping these objectives in mind, AAPI-IFDC invited women from different levels of the society, including women Union Parishad (UP) members, school and college teachers, Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/Integrated Crop Management (ICM) club members, women community leaders, upazila-level women officers and upazila women vice chairpersons to attend the workshops. Also invited were men as part of farming couples, community leaders, women and men briquette shop owners, UP chairmen and mosque Imams. The workshops were organized at both union and upazila levels. From January to September 2012, AAPI conducted seven such workshops as presented in the following Table.

Note: The drying cycle will generally take 5-8 days before irrigation is required, depending on soil types.

AWD will save 20-25 percent of the irrigation water over the life of the crop. The DAE, the largest agricultural extension service provider of the country and Barind Tract Development Authority, are working to 4


Volume 20 Upazila


Total Participants Men

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Muktagachha Nakla Burhanuddin Kalaroa Kaliganj Jhalokati Sadar Bagherpara

Mymensingh Sherpur Bhola Satkhira Jhenaidah Jhalokati Jessore Total


% of Women

17 20 18 26 18 18 23

Women 33 29 32 33 36 32 37

50 49 50 59 54 50 60

66% 59% 64% 56% 67% 64% 62%





urea. They will especially motivate the women farmers to use it in homestead and commercial vegetable gardening. They will conduct meetings with the irrigation block managers at the beginning of each of the rice and vegetable seasons.

During the workshop, AAPI collected women’s perceptions about their involvement in agricultural activities and their contribution. These findings included:  Women involvement in pre-harvest (seed soaking, seed bed management, seedling uprooting) and post-harvest activities (drying, winnowing, preserving, etc.) in cereal crop cultivation is at least 80 percent.  Women establish almost 100 percent of the homestead vegetable gardens.  Women farmers’ involvement in commercial vegetable cultivation is at least 75 percent.  The extra income from home garden produce provides the opportunity to buy anything of their interest.

Participants expressing their views in a women-led stakeholders workshop at Jhalokati .

 They have to depend on their husbands/male members of their families to get quality seed/ planting materials.

UP Chairman and Women UP Members: The issue of Guti urea will be included in the agenda of their monthly UP meetings. In addition to motivating the farmers on the technology in community meetings, the UP chairman will also conduct open sky shows in the market places.

The stimulating discussions within the workshops inspired the participants to promote Guti urea (UDP) technology, which many stated is their social and religious responsibility. In the open discussions, the participants wrote their commitments as summarized below.

Briquette Shop Owners: They will preserve Guti urea in their shops, conduct tea stall sessions in the bazaar, publicize it through microphone and distribute leaflets as marketing strategies. Briquette owners will establish rice demonstration

IPM/ICM Club Members: They will arrange farmers’ meetings to encourage the use of Guti 5


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plots on their own to motivate other farmers to use Guti urea.

community leaders who can act as Guti urea promoters.

School and College Teachers: Teachers said they would discuss on a regular basis the benefits of the technology. They will also include it as an agenda of the parents’ meetings. They said they will also distribute leaflets during home visits and inspire the farmers.

4. Farmers’ conferences at the union levels can provide more knowledge on Guti urea technology. 5. AAPI officials should develop close contacts with the local NGOs and attend their official and community meetings to talk about Guti urea.

Farming Couples: Farming couples will arrange meetings with their respective communities and provide support to new farmers during transplantation and Guti placement. Women farmers will support other community women to use Guti urea in their homestead and commercial vegetable gardens.

6. Bangladesh Krishi Bank can provide soft loans to the poor farmers to cultivate cereal crops and vegetables. 7. AAPI-IFDC yearly calendars, laminated posters and flip charts are a useful means to promote the technology to UPs, IPM/ICM clubs, NGOs, schools and colleges and Ministry of Women Affairs offices.

NGO Representatives: NGOs committed to discuss the benefits of Guti urea in their weekly meetings and include it in their meeting agenda.

8. Laminated pictures of women involved in the agricultural activities, especially in using Guti urea, could be provided to encourage women’s participation in AAPI activities.

Imams: Imams said they would motivate the male farmers regarding the participation of women in cereal crop cultivation as well as vegetable cultivation. During Special Jumma prayer on the Fridays, they will discuss the benefits of Guti urea and women participation before Khudba. They think promotion of the technology is a social and religious responsibility for the greater benefits of the nation.

Commitments and recommendations by the workshop participants, especially the women, are strong reflections of their enthusiasm about Guti urea technology. Translating these into actions can contribute to the massive expansion of the technology.

Journalists: They committed to promote Guti urea in national and local newspapers and television (TV) channels. Also, they will highlight the technology’s significant impact on food security and the environment in different forums.

*** Use Guti Fertilizer, Create Jobs Hashem, alias Rozdar Ali, had been an underemployed farm laborer until he began working at a briquette machine shop. He is a sharecropper who grows rice on 66 decimals of land in his Shahpur village of Chuadanga Sadar upazila and used to sell his labor to others when times were lean. The middle-aged laborer had farm work for only four months each year. With the rice he grew, Hashem could supply food for his five-member family for only six months out of each year. For the rest of the year, he had to sell his labor, but the labor demand, on average, was no more than 10 days per month, earning

Lessons Learned 1. AAPI promotional materials on Guti urea like videos, leaflets and brochures can be used by UP representatives, schools and colleges. 2. AAPI officials invited to attend the monthly UP meetings are an important way to publicize the technology. 3. Special workshops at the union level are imperative to ensure participation of more 6


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him an income of Taka 2,000 (US$25), which was too meager to provide for the family.

“Sometimes I sell labor in the field until noon and then go to work at the Guti urea shop in the afternoon. On such days, I earn Tk 400,” Hashem said happily, adding that from Boro season of 2011/2012 until this Aman season, he worked at the Guti shop over 40 days, which helped him earn an additional Tk 2,000 (US$25).

“What to do? I had no alternative job, and so we lived in hardship,” he said, sitting on the handmade carpet of palm leaves on the veranda of his clay-built house. But late last year, things started to change. His uncle, Mujibur Rahman, a Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) fertilizer dealer, bought a UDP briquetting machine through the AAPI project to produce Guti urea, a technology being promoted by the DAE and IFDC to enhance productivity and lower production costs of rice and other crops.

The amount might seem small, but it is doubling Hashem’s cash income and has had a great effect on the family. With the extra income, he has leased 50 decimals more land, and he can now purchase more inputs like fertilizers and seeds. He cultivated Aman paddy in that new field this season. “Cultivating additional land ensures food for my family for at least three more months,” the hardworking Hashem said. Currently, Guti fertilizer is produced seasonally, during paddy transplantation at three seasons of Boro, Aman and Aus. But recently, farmers have begun using Guti urea in vegetables and other crops. If this trend increases, Guti urea briquetting machines will be in operation all year round. “If that is so, I will have jobs all through the year,” says excited Hashem, who is one of many hundreds of laborers earning extra income by working in the urea briquette shops, and dreaming of better lives. According to a census conducted by AAPI in April 2012, on average, there were 1.67 jobs per urea briquette firm. In the last four years, IFDC has promoted rural entrepreneurs who purchased 1,065 briquette machines at 75 percent reduced price in 22 districts. That translates to roughly 1,780 new jobs that have been created during that period. For many farm laborers, landless sharecroppers, rickshaw van drivers –in other words, the rural poor –these briquette machines have become lighthouses for a better way to make a living.

Rozdar Ali employed by Mujibur Rahman producing Guti urea

“My cousin Liton called me asking if I would operate the Guti urea machine so I can earn extra money,” Hashem said, adding that it was a good chance for him to increase his income. He still has his own work in the field, and he still responds to the call for casual labor. During the rest of the time, he works at the shop, Biswas Traders. He now has steady work and additional income. For producing a 50-kg bag of urea briquettes, he gets Tk 15. He and his partner, on average, produce 30 bags of briquettes a day. This means his share of income is over Tk 200 a day from the shop.

Delwar Hossain, a rickshaw van driver of Yadavpur village in Meherpur, is another shining example of increased livelihoods from Guti fertilizer production. The 65-year old man 7


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usually earns Taka 150-200 (US$2-2.5) per day, but when he started working at the briquette shop of fertilizer retailer Golam Kibria in June of this year, his earnings rose. On the days he worked at the urea briquette shop, in addition to driving the rickshaw van, his daily income was about Tk 300 (US$4).

AAPI Events in November 2012 In the month of November 2012, AAPI is concentrating its activities for Aman and Boro paddy. In this month, the following activities will be carried out.  590 batches of training for Boro rice farmers  3 batches of training for briquette producers  3 small business management trainings  295 motivational meetings with old farmers  Sale of 50 urea briquette machines  14 motivational field trips  15 stakeholders’ workshops for Boro  17 promotional shows  24 extension staff meeting  19 orientation training  46 field days (Demo and Trial) for Aman  285 Aman demo and 20 trial crop cut  356 Aman farmers field crop cut  Block survey and global positioning system (GPS) data collection

During Aus and Aman seasons, he worked around 40 days at the firm, besides driving van, and that helped his family immensely. “My wife is sick. I could treat her and take her some good food,” he said. Humayun Kabir, a sharecropper and fertilizer briquette machine owner in Jessore Sadar, said he has trained some laborers on the application of Guti urea. They have become so efficient that the farmers are hiring them and paying more than the usual labor price due to their skills. “Guti urea is not only reducing production costs and increasing yields, but is also creating jobs and raising workers’ incomes,” he quipped.


*** Activity Achievements September 27 to October 24, 2012

From September 27 to October 24, 2012, AAPI successfully completed activities as shown in the following table. Indicator


Season Target

Achievement in October 2012

Season Total

% of Target

Boro season Farmer training






Extension staff meeting Field demonstration (Total) Trials (Total) Motivational field trips Stakeholder workshops Sale of briquette machines Briquette owner training

No. No. No. Batches Batches No. Batches

39 447 36 45 12 155 8

11 19 3 6 12 45 3

11 19 3 6 12 45 3

28% 4% 8% 13% 100% 29% 38%

Aman crop cut Rice demonstration harvest Rice trials cut

No. No.

422 36

10 2

10 2

2% 6%

*** 8

AAPI Newsletter Vol 20 (English)