Home' Partners : Partners: The dryland agriculture revolution Contents are the Bangladesh Agricultural University, the
Bangladesh Agricultural research Council, the
Bangladesh rice research institute (Brri), the
Bangladesh Agricultural research institute, the
Department of Agriculture and Food, western
Australia (DAFwA), the Un’s Food and Agriculture
Organization, the Peoples’ resource Oriented
Voluntary Association and iDe.
essential to the uptake of CA is access to
the specialised machines needed to avoid
disturbing the soil’s structure and moisture
content as little as possible.
Part of that jigsaw puzzle was solved by
the pre-existence in Bangladesh of about
half a million 2wts. ACiAr then identified
an opportunity to develop planters suited
to minimum-tillage practices that would
work with the existing 2wts. the resulting
CA planters are now undergoing testing,
commercial manufacture and roll out.
“ with the minimum tillage we are endorsing,
each field has only one pass and it is done in a
single day, saving the farmer time,” Professor Bell
says. “ the impact on yield is minimal and in dry
areas, yield increases have been seen due to the
ability of the soil to better retain moisture.”
Marketing is a key focus for ACiAr and the
team is working with iDe to make the machine
planters available to farmers. iDe is a not-for-
profit corporation with extensive experience
bringing new technology to markets in
marginalised rural communities, both in
Bangladesh and other developing countries.
iDe’s past expertise lies in facilitating the local
manufacture of affordable and scalable micro-
irrigation and other low-cost water recovery
systems and in distribution methods—through
local supply chains—where the technology is
available to farmers at an affordable cost that
can be repaid in one growing season.
Professor Bell says the iDe partnership has
been valuable because for many researchers,
marketing is an area outside their comfort zone.
“it has involved some learning and
challenges because the private sector operates
in a way that is different to the research sector,”
he says. “ that’s what iDe is assisting with—
helping us to understand the impediments
to getting into the market and ensuring the
people who want to buy have access to funds.”
the target group for the planters is not
necessarily the farmers themselves, but rather
small business or service providers. these
providers then hire the equipment out on a fee-
the cost of the planters is about A$600–900.
Annual per capita income in Bangladesh
is about A$400–600, and a small business
operating one of these planters can earn about
A$1,000–1,500 per year. Cost-benefit analysis
has shown that within two to three years, the
operator can pay back their loan and start
making a profit from their business.
cropping opTions expanded
while CA can lead to savings in fuel, labour,
time and operational costs and can boost
productivity, it does require substantial
modifications to traditional crop agronomy.
Since conventional tillage is effective for
controlling weeds, the new CA-based approach
requires the use of herbicides and attention
to seeding rates, row spacing and varieties.
not much is known about herbicides among
Bangladeshi farmers, so learning what is
effective is a high priority.
Dr Abul Hashem, a weeds specialist from
DAFwA, is teaching local farmers about weed
management and herbicide use.
“Dr Hashem was born in Bangladesh so he is
a great asset to the team,” Professor Bell says. “He
can communicate in the local language and is
CA also emphasises the agronomic
benefits derived from crop rotation, so crop
diversification is encouraged.
“Bangladeshi farmers are very responsive
to markets and will adjust the mix of crops
accordingly,” Professor Bell says. “Minimum tillage
helps with crop diversification because a crop
can be planted in one day. this gives farmers the
flexibility to respond to the markets and to plant
at the ideal time for higher productivity.”
through the ACiAr project ‘Sustainable
intensification of rice–maize production
systems in Bangladesh’, CA is being used
to support farmers’ efforts to diversify their
production to meet changing demand
patterns, without compromising yields. the
project is led by Dr Mahesh Gathala from the
international Maize and wheat improvement
Center and Dr roland Buresh from the
international rice research institute.
in Bangladesh there are three cropping
seasons a year to consider: aman, boro and
aus. Aman is the wet season from around
June–July to October–november and only rice
is typically grown during this time. Boro is the
dry season that follows when rainfall is limited
and considerable electricity and fuel are used to
pump water for irrigating rice.
Growth of boro rice is critical for the
production of sufficient food, but maize uses less
irrigation water than rice. Maize grown in this
season is referred to as rabi maize. rabi maize,
like boro rice, can achieve high yields at this time
of the year with high solar radiation. Pre-wet
season maize is referred to a kharif-1 maize.
Demand for maize has been increasing
both as feed for the poultry industry and for
PArtnerS winter 2013
human consumption. Alongside the increase in
demand for maize is the importance of growing
maize in rotation with rice to ensure effective
use of limited arable land.
As part of the rice–maize intensification
project, the yield gap for both rice and maize has
been addressed through a range of interventions
that include resource-conserving technologies
such as the minimum-tillage planters and
web-based information and communication
technology (iCt) for delivery of agronomic
information to farmers and service providers.
the iCt component of Dr Buresh’s project
supports the changing agronomic practices
with information delivery to farmers, particularly
in the context of fertiliser recommendations.
Maize and rice farmers require use of
fertiliser to achieve target yield and profitability.
However, Bangladesh is diverse in soil type and
topography, and these, along with other factors,
influence the amount of fertiliser required.
the iCt tool developed by the team is
called nutrient Manager for rice (Bangladesh).
it has been endorsed and released for use
on computers and smartphones by the Brri
A similar app for rabi and kharif maize is
undergoing field testing prior to its release.
while the development and release of
the rice app has been a major success, Dr
Buresh acknowledges that it does not replace
“Getting technologies to farmers through
iCt still takes personal contact with farmers,”
Dr Buresh says. “An iCt tool such as nutrient
Manager facilitates the work of extension, but
we have learnt that it does not reduce the
importance of personal contact with the farmer.”
in addition to rice and maize, potato can
also achieve high yields and it has become an
important crop. Potato is typically harvested
in February, giving farmers the opportunity to
grow a crop of maize prior to aman rice in the
next wet season. n
Pr Oj eC t: ciM/2007/122: sustainable
intensification of rice–maize production
systems in Bangladesh 2008–2013
c onTac T: dr eric Huttner, eric.huttner@aciar.
gov.au, 02 6217 0527
Pr Oj eC t: lWR/2010/080: overcoming
agronomic and mechanisation constraints to
development and adoption of conservation
agriculture in diversified rice-based cropping
in Bangladesh 2012–2016
COn tAC t: dr evan christen, evan.christen@
aciar.gov.au, 02 6217 0561
Links Archive Partners: Raising incomes – pathways out of poverty Partners: ACIAR in Australia – Australian benefits Navigation Previous Page Next Page