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Call to integrate nutrition into agriculture value chain

Agriculture 2024-05-22, 9:39pm


Speakers at a workshop on Agriculture for Improved Food and Nutrition Securities in Dhaka on Wednesday 22 May 2024.

Dhaka, May 22 - Speakers have emphasized the importance of integrating nutrition into the agricultural value chain to enhance food security and improve livelihoods at a workshop held in Dhaka.

The national inception workshop, organized by the Smallholder Agricultural Competitiveness Project-Diversified Resilient Agriculture for Improved Food and Nutrition Securities (SACP-RAINS) on May 21, focused on promoting climate resilience and diversifying agriculture.

The workshop discussed that by incorporating nutritional considerations at each stage of the value chain—from production and processing to distribution and consumption—agricultural policies and practices can play a crucial role in addressing malnutrition.

The Department of Agricultural Extension, the leading implementing agency of the project, has coordinated efforts with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, and the Department of Agricultural Marketing to improve the life and livelihood of smallholder farmers.

Dr Malay Choudhury, Additional Secretary (Extension), Ministry of Agriculture said, "I hope that all participants and associated institutions agree on adopting innovative ideas and practical strategies to advance the activity of the project."

He also emphasized the importance of sustainable technology, necessary inputs, and training provided to smallholder farmers, noting that these resources would significantly improve their production, consumption, and marketing activities.

The four-year project works in 20 districts in the coastal region, the drought-prone region, and the northern Char region, supporting communities to build resilience to environmental and economic shocks.

By specifically targeting households most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, RAINS directly improves the income and nutrition of 670,000 women and men.

The IFAD-financed SACP project supports 250,000 coastal farmers to diversify crops, improve livelihoods, and build climate resilience and its success of this model has opened opportunities to extend the project's reach to an additional 420,000 farmers through a grant financing provided by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

Technical assistance for the project is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The project targets climate-vulnerable hotspot areas, including coastal regions, river erosion zones, and drought-prone districts, aiming to enhance the income and living standards of 670,000 smallholder farmers.

The project's integrated approach ensures close collaboration among key agricultural bodies, guaranteeing effective implementation and tangible outcomes. 

Rilla Kirk, Prgramme Manager, IFAD in Bangladesh, highlighted the importance of the initiative, and this initiative represents a vital step towards ensuring that smallholder farmers are equipped with the tools and knowledge to build resilience against climate change.

"We are proud to work hand in hand with the government of Bangladesh and other partners to support a project that promises to enhance food security and nutritional outcomes for vulnerable communities in rural Bangladesh."             

The workshop was presided over by Md. Tajul Islam Patwari, acting Director General and Director of the Field Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension.

Project Director Dr Muhammad Emdadul Haque delivered the welcome speech and presented the project's keynote. 

"Within 50 years of independence, Bangladesh has quadrupled its rice production and significantly increased vegetable and fruit yields. This success is due to improved agricultural education, research, and extension services, with credit to the government and, notably, the hardworking farmers,’ said Md. Tajul Islam Patwari.

Dia Sanou, Deputy Country Representative, FAO Bangladesh, and Rudaba Khondker, Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), were also present at the event.

IFAD’s programme in Bangladesh is one of its largest.

Currently, IFAD has invested USD 519 million in Bangladesh, distributed across six ongoing projects implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Local Government Engineering Department, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, and the Bangladesh Water Development Board. Bangladesh has also shown its strong commitment to IFAD’s mandate, contributing USD 2 million to IFAD’s resources as a member of its Governing Council. - UNB