Food and agriculture | Blogs

  • Seed cum fertiliser maize planter: how it works?


    December 12th, 2017

    The Developmental Challenge

    The Developmental Challenge Being one of the professional working in the sector of Market Development in Agriculture Sector in Nepal, the issue of farm mechanisation has always been the one of the sector of my interest. Even though the concept of farm mechanisation is ploddingly increasing, farmers access to related information and machineries in different crops are stumpy. In addition, the effort for farm mechanisation awareness and extension services are insufficient in the country.

    Alike the national scenario, I found the situation similar in the Maize Subsector in Bara District; during initial assessment under the Promoting Climate Resilience Agriculture (PCRA) Project. Maize farmers in the project area were unaware and did not use modern farm plantation equipment which resulted low productivity and high cost of production.

    On a positive note, this developmental hitch possessed a silver lining for promotion of farm mechanisation in the subsector. Thus, this challenge led identification and promotion of appropriate maize plantation machine in the area.

    Exploring Solutions
    With the help of the project team I started to identify possible service providers in nearby area of Bara district, which could fulfil our requirement. Though not a “Herculean Task”, the hunt was quite intricate and iterative to meet with service providers and select appropriate machine. After a week of market assessment, “Trishakti Traders” a supplier of farm machine and equipment was identified.

    To our ecstasy, Mr. Dhurv Shah (Proprietor- Trishakti Traders) was not only supportive towards our concept but also extended support to the project by offering us a free demo of the machine along with technicians support. Though Mr. Shah knew that though there would not be an immediate return for his investment, he was guided by his deep rooted values that being a responsible citizen he should be contributing for the society through ways he can.

    While returning from his sales outlet, a question kept knocking my mind: How vibrant would our society be, if we had more such heart warming people in the sector?

    Execution of Identified Solution
    Seven plots based upon developed criteria were selected for the demonstration activity. Those include; Affinity towards technology, having suitable land type for machine use, connector in the area for information dissemination and location. Based upon those criteria the selected plots were in Chiutaha, Kachaurwa, Paterwa, Pipradi and Lead Firm Plot Birgunj and the demonstration activities were conducted during 28 Nov- Dec 3, 2017.

    Trishakti Traders provided the “Maize Seed Cum Fertiliser Plantation Machine” for demonstration period and also called two machine technicians from Punjab, India to support the process.

    Major Outputs
     The demo was successful in planting the maize as per the expectations. During the event, effectiveness, efficiency and economic benefits of the machine were also tested. The machine has been found to be simple to operate and could be employed to plant at least 2.5-3 hectares per day under normal conditions . Farm economics shows that it would save about 100 USD per hectare plantation through savings from seed, manure and labour. When the machine would be used as per the calculations above the machine purchase cost (1250 USD) recovery would take less than 5 days. This information was shared to the farmers during the demo activity.

    Apart from the demo, the activity also raised a degree of curiosity and awareness in the areas. Being a new technology, farmers and passerby’s were keen to know about the technology and its benefits along with the purchase details. Some of the farmers wanted to test the machine to plant maize in their fields but due to inadequate time and incoming election, it was not possible.

     

     

     

    The Final Takeaway: Though this activity cannot be considered as a “Silver Bullet” to solve all the farm mechanisation issues, it has undoubtedly added a brick to lay foundation for farm mechanisation in the maize subsector in the area. PCRA is hopeful that the purchase and use of machine in upcoming maize plantation season will initiate.

     

     

    Description: Seed cum Fertiliser Maize Planter

    The Seed Cum Fertiliser Maize Plantation Machine used for the demonstration consists of five trench liners through which seeds and fertilizers are shown in the field and covered subsequently. The machine acts as an add-on-unit in tractor which is used for agriculture purpose and is easy to operate as it does not have complicated mechanism. It can be handled by two persons after they have a general idea of how the machine operates and can plant up to 3.5 hectares per day. The major parts of the machine along with their functions are described below:

     a) Seed and Fertiliser Holder: The seed and fertiliser holders have been designed in the machine at the topmost level of the machine. There are five seed holder compartments where the maize seeds are kept. Each compartment can hold more than 5 kg of seed. In case of fertiliser, there is only one compartment but has five drains from where the fertilisers fall down along with the maize as shown in the picture aside. The capacity of fertiliser holder is more than 50 Kilograms.

    b) Rotating Wheel Rotating wheel in the machine is connected to the main body with the help of a chain and provides thrust to move the machine forward. It also balances wheels on two sides in order to maintain the required plantation depth. As the wheel rotates forward, the chain provides rotational force to the Axle and Pivot.

    c) Axle and Pivot: As the axle and pivot receive torque, they rotate the seed holder and open the fertiliser holder. Due to the rotation, each seed move into the vacant space of the holder and are pushed down to the outlet. The seed holder is designed to accommodate only one seed and is pushed down by the brush attached in the seed holder. Similarly the opening of the fertiliser also allows a specific quantity to fall down the pipe to the trench developed.

    d) Trench Liners and Outlet: As the rotating wheel pushes forward in the plot ready for plantation, the trench liner develops five trenches where the seeds and fertilizers get dropped. The trench is covered with the soil by base opening of the trench liner. The continuous rotation motion of the axle and pivot enables a specific spacing amongst the seeds shown. Generally the spacing maintained amongst the seed is about 17-20 cm and the spacing between two trench lines is about 60 cm.

    e) Extra Liner for Mark up purpose: One of the peculiar characteristics of this machine, compared to zero till planter is the provision of extra trench liner. Due to the presence of extra liner, it helps tractor driver to mark up the planted area and maintain the crop spacing for proceeding plantation.

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  • Spreading the message on animal health


    November 28th, 2017

    The overall objective of the LESP-ES animal health project is to contribute to poverty reduction and to eradicate food insecurity in Sudan by improving the livelihoods and resilience of rural smallholders in Kassala, Gedarif and Red Sea states through enhancing livestock productivity.

    The purpose of the project is to ensure that appropriate animal disease surveillance and control is operational in these three states of Eastern Sudan. This will be achieved through improved effectiveness of epidemio–surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases.

    Improvements in veterinary services aim to achieve the following:

    1. Strengthen capacities for epidemio-surveillance and control of cross-boundary animal diseases.
    2. Improve the diagnostic capacities of veterinary laboratories and quarantine facilities
    3. Build awareness and competency of stakeholders to improve animal health and to enhance resilience against epidemics and other animal health related environmental hazards.

    To achieve the third objective it is important to increase the awareness and skills of smallholders and community-based organizations on subjects related to animal health.  This will be achieved through  different activities such as disseminating  leaflets and posters to smallholders, agro-pastoralist communities and community-based organizations including women about relevant diseases.  In addition television and radio show will introduce live dramas, using music and comedy to attract the attention of targeted groups.

    Those different types of communication, using targeted messages to raise awareness of animal diseases were formulated in a simple, attractive way to ensure acceptance and deliver an easy way for people to understand complex scientific materials. Colourful posters and leaflets with plenty of pictures, were distributed during field campaigns, extension meetings, vaccination and treatment missions.

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  • Reflections on a week at COP23 – the 23rd annual meeting of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change


    November 17th, 2017

    Within a short time of arriving in Bonn early last week, one thing became very clear, it was not just the negotiators or minority groups of environmentalists who thought COP23 was important. A full spectrum of nationalities, government, private sector, civil society, academics, the media and citizens were involved! Whilst the negotiations were taking place in the World Conference Centre and UN Campus (the Bula Zone), ‘Climate Action Events’ were taking place across the city. These events were not confined to the temporary conference centre that had been erected in Rheinaue Park (the Bonn Zone). They were also taking place in the university, colleges, organisations, hotels and a range of other venues.

    So what was driving all this activity? What did people want to see happen? For me, it can be summarised as global action that  will enable us to mitigate, adapt and cope with the impacts of climate change. That is, full and successful implementation of the ‘Paris Agreement’. Most of those participating in Bonn last week knew that COP23, like other annual meetings, was an important step in achieving that.

    Of course, such a far reaching and important issue as climate change is complex and political. And it is no surprise therefore that the negotiations are equally complex, political and slow! Many people ask what difference can individuals, or a small team from a medium sized NGO, can make in such a big event or process. On reflection I think there are several invaluable contributions.

    The first, is contributing to the buzz and hubbub of ‘Climate Action Events’ – to inspire and motivate the negotiators. As the COP organisers know from experience, contrasting multi-stakeholder activity – debate, discussion, evidence, campaigning and advocacy – is an essential part of the process. It highlights what can, and must, be done! It tells negotiators that failure, in these negotiations and process, is not an option!

    A second, is to be part of the body of civil society organisations that keenly follow, critique and support the negotiations. This can include meeting with the negotiating Parties, working in networks (such as the Climate Action Network) or responding when there are requests for information.

    A third, is to share specific examples of climate actions that work, or do not work. Practical Action has diverse experience in understanding how technology transforms the lives of women and men living in, or vulnerable to, poverty. Much of this is directly linked to coping with climate change.

    One such example, and pragmatic way to address the increasing incidence of drought and unreliable rainfall associated with climate change, is the use of solar powered irrigation in Zimbabwe. There are of course many ways to use and enable access to this technology. And many parallel economic and social issues to consider. Agriculture is a private sector. New technology and development initiatives must recognise and appreciate this, for example farmers and communities also need the capacity to engage with and respond to changing markets. Or, working with private sector actors to develop business models which enable them to go beyond the low hanging fruit – the easy to reach and work with. Agriculture is also intrinsically linked to culture and social structures, which means working with households and communities to plan their own development.

    I hope this short example shows that even where there is an obvious ‘win-win’ solution – such as solar powered irrigation to resurrect agriculture in drought prone areas – progress is not simple. As with the climate talks, it needs committed, multi-sector action. And, as with the climate talks, failure is not an option!

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  • Veterinary checkpoints in Kassala


    November 14th, 2017

    The three states of eastern Sudan, Kassala, Gadarif and Red Sea, are among the poorest in Sudan.  Chronic poverty and food insecurity is widespread. More than two thirds of the region’s population live in rural areas and more than a third of poor households in these states keep livestock.

    Despite raising an estimated 15.2 million beasts in 2012, representing approximately 17% of Sudan’s livestock, the livestock sector remains severely under-developed. Once of the main problems facing this sector in Sudan, and Eastern Sudan in particular, is the high prevalence of animal diseases, including trans-boundary diseases. These have the potential to seriously affect the health, productivity and trade of livestock and therefore constitute a real threat to rural and pastoral livelihoods.

    State veterinary authorities lack the resources and capacity to detect, monitor and control trans-boundary animal diseases. This is compounded by the weakness of veterinary services and poor infrastructure facilities across the region. Nevertheless, there is considerable potential to increase the level of protection from animal disease by strengthening institutional capacities for epidemio-surveillance and coordination of trans-boundary animal disease control at the state level.

    The European Commission has allocated EUR 3,500,000 under a “Special Fund” for Sudan to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Sudan, to support the livestock sector.  It aims to enhance livestock disease control to improve production and trade in East Sudan.

    The Livestock Epidemio-surveillance project – East Sudan (LESP-ES) is being implemented in collaboration between Practical Action Sudan, the Federal Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries & Rangelands and the state ministries of Animal Resources in Sudan’s eastern states (Red Sea, Kassala and Gadarif).

    Kassala state is one of the three beneficiary states of LESP-ES. The state has a rich variety of animal species.

    One of the activities is the establishment of veterinary check points for monitoring animal disease. The check points monitor animal movements to conrol the spread of epidemic diseases (either across boundaries or national states) through professionally recognized activities.

    There are also additional tasks assigned to veterinary check points, namely vaccination services, treatment, awareness raising and disease surveys benefiting the pastoralists, small breeders, farmers, and cattle traders in Kassala State.

    In cooperation with the state General Directorate of Animal Resources, Practical Action Sudan has established five veterinary check points in the form of caravans, distributed in logical geographical locations to provide veterinary services.

    The caravan contains an office and a bedroom for the workers. It was also provided with a motorbike as a means of transport for the technician working at the site under the supervision of a veterinarian. Every check point receives regular visits by veterinarian with a mobile veterinary unit to connect the five points with the state headquarters. Caravan and mobile units are well equipped with all their needs for camps, field work and field diagnostics.

    These points were a real addition to disease surveillance efforts and the geographical expansion of veterinary services to the target beneficiaries.

    Khalil Zayed Ibrahim – deputy General Manager Animal Wealth said:  “Check points also contributed positively in drawing a preliminary picture of the animal disease map in the state through sharing in surveys which followed by data analysis to gain fruitful information that leading to better disease control plans.”

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  • New animal vaccination and inspection facilities in Kassala


    November 14th, 2017

    The administration of quarantine and meat inspection in Sudan lies with the Federal Ministry of Animal Resources. Because of the density and diversity of animal wealth in the eastern sector of Sudan (including Kassala state) and the strategic location of the state in the field of livestock breeding and trade and its economic importance, the veterinary authorities have created a center for vaccination and inspection.

    A number of activities have been included in the project, which is managed and implemented in a positive partnership between Practical Action-Sudan and the Ministry of Animal Resources.  The project has provided significant support in improving the working environment by providing items such as furniture, communications equipment and sprayers. It also supported the reporting and information systems through providing internet access.

    The project has implemented a sophisticated refrigeration supply chain for the storage of vaccines and collection of samples for lab diagnosis, in addition to equipment for vaccination, protective clothing and vaccine delivery ice-boxes.

    The state quarantine department was also provided with mechanical sprayers for spraying of external parasites and pests to avoid vector-borne diseases.

    This was reflected in the provision of a quality and sophisticated service  to control the risk of diseases that may affect the flow of animal trade out of the country, as reflected in the managed data at the quarantine department of Kassala state.

    Dr. Molhima said;

    “These quarantine machines helped in saving time and effort. Many thanks to Practical Action for their support.”

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  • Better veterinary services in remote areas


    October 12th, 2017

    The EU funded Livestock Epidemio Surveillance Programme for Eastern Sudan (LESP-ES) aims to establish effective  epidemio-surveillance and control of trans-boundary animal diseases and priority diseases and link with national institutional frameworks through strengthening capacities for epidemio-surveillance.

    Different activities were conducted to accomplish this including the provision of three check points on the border with Ethiopia, at Basunda in Taya and Galabat as well as Alassera in Guresha.  There are also three interstate check points at Shajarab and Sada  between Gedarif and Kassala State and Khyary between Gedarif and Gezera State.

    In order to provide proper veterinary services at those points, the programme has supplied nine motorbikes at these check points in addition to the three motorbikes already in Gebesha Aburakham and Sefawa to cover the long borders.

    Veterinary technicians were appointed to take responsibility for providing veterinary services and monitoring livestock movements in these vital area, taking into account that livestock  know no borders in their search for pasture and water.

    The programme has helped improve the of skills and experience of veterinary technicians through multiple training courses for those at checkpoints among others.

    Hassan Yousif Abdalla From Guresha was one of these technicians deployed  at the Alassera check point near the Ethiopian border. He expressed his appreciation for the role played by the programme and Practical Action in supporting veterinary services in remote rural areas where it is difficult to find veterinarians because numbers in the state are low.  He said that having an office here was a dream come true. Now it’s much easier to deliver veterinary services and to work with people in different villages as well as those who come asking for help.

    Hassan said that before the motorbikes arrived it was difficult to monitor livestock movements or provide support to pastoralists and animal owners because villages were so scattered  and the roads unpaved.

    “Now I can travel to all surrounding villages and provide veterinary services and meat inspections and to investigate all outbreaks of disease whenever I’m notified.  I can even provide help to pastoralists and animal owners across the border with Ethiopia. They come and ask for help because we are neighbours and have a common weekly livestock market in this area.  The programme had provided me with a mobile phone so anyone can reach me.  I can always ask  the local animal resources directorate for advice when I need it.”

    Hassan said that he provides treatment and extension services even at household level and his work covers more than thirteen villages.  He performs meat inspections at the weekly livestock market and monitors the meat provided at local restaurants for the sake of better public health.

    Hassan is sure of the importance of checkpoints as means of providing veterinary services to poor people in marginalized areas but has some worries about the sustainability of the service after withdrawal programme support.

    Livestock owner Adam Nemer said that the presence of check points in the area encouraged farmers to concentrate on their herds because it is easier now to find support when needed.  He explained:

    “Hassan helps us a lot.  He treats sick animals and provides guidance and advice on how to rear the herd and how to avoid diseases through better nutrition.  He also encourages us to undertake routine vaccination in order to prevent major disease outbreaks.”

    Finally Hassan explained that the caravan should be provided with extra veterinary field tools that would help them in performing their duties.

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  • A step forward for women’s empowerment


    September 25th, 2017

    Livestock Epidemic Surveillance Programme (LESP) , funded by the European Community aims to improve awareness and skills of rural livestock producers and other stakeholders in animal health and production.  It is supporting this community initiative in collaboration with the Animal Resources Directorate in Wassat.  They have formed more than 200 women pastoralist committees covering most of the villages in the region, which have been registered as official committees.

    In addition they helped obtain finance from banks with direct support from the Sudan National Bank as part of a national policy to support the livelihoods of the rural poor. Each household was given three sheep to be raised by the family. The Animal Resource Directorate monitors each committee’s monthly payments to the bank and the health of these small herds.  They have conducted several treatment campaigns which have shown to have had a positive impact on the welfare and livelihoods of rural families.

    Practical Action led the process of forming the women’s pastoralist committee network. Building on its legacy of empowering rural communities especially women and contributing to gender equality through mainstreaming gender issues, we aim to build better understanding of the positive role of such networks in fostering better performance.

    In order to help these pastoralist committees rear their small  herds the programme conducted several training courses related to animal health.  Women attending were shown how to judge the proper health condition of their animals, how to identify a sick animal, which diseases should case major concern and their symptoms and treatment.  The importance of notification of disease to the veterinary authorities and vaccination were among other topics covered.

    The committee’s executives were also trained on project management and financial procedures in order to be able to run their own business.

    Consultation between the partners led to the decision to support a veterinary drug store as a revolving fund  managed by the women pastoralist committees network Executive desk, under the direct supervision of  Animal Resources Directorate at Wassat.

    The programme provided office furniture, stationery and drugs while the Ministry of Animal Resources issued a veterinary drugstore license and appointed a veterinary technician to supervise the service.

    The Department of Health in Wassat offered to host the store in their new health clinic at Abu Alnaja.  This clinic with provide pastoral women with drugs and veterinary assistance at a moderate price which, managed wisely will generate revenue for a revolving fund.

    The opening ceremony of the veterinary drugstore took place on 18 September. The Ministry of Animal Resources was represented by His Excellency the Animal Resources Minister as well as the East Sudan office coordinator and LESP-ES local technical advisor, and representatives from Wassat’s legislative council, members of the women’s pastoralist committees and  villagers of Abu Alnaja villages.

    Following the opening of the store, there was an exhibition,  speeches and a drama.  The ceremony was attended by  students of the University of Alneelen’s Faculty of Animal Production on their annual scientific trip, who indicated their appreciation of the idea and the support given to the community.

     

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  • Big change starts with a small technology- Aashkol


    September 20th, 2017

    Since independence, having had massive development interventions for women empowerment in Bangladesh, but still rural people perceived that technology is something that needs to be handled by men. Similarly, entrepreneurship is believed to men’s sphere. However, aiming to bring some changes in these gendered domains, under EC- PRSIM project (funded by European Commission), we have distributed Aashkol (jute fiber extraction machine) through a joint entrepreneurship model (one male and female member can take lease of the machine fro 3 years). In this entrepreneurship model, women have significant role to play both for unleashing their potential entrepreneurial skills and earn an income. However, it was not easy for community people to see woman leading an enterprise. Sheuli Begum- one of the woman entrepreneurs of the project stated that;

    I am a housewife and people do not see my entrepreneurship skill in positive way. They never encourage to do such thing. Rather people laughed at me. But I know, I can do this.

    Sheuli helping her husband in jute retting

    Sheuli Begum lives in Bozra, Kurigram with her husband and two children. Her husband is a jute farmer, and she is a home maker. From her husband’s income, it is impossible to save any amount for meeting any emergency need. Seasonal income from selling jute fiber, jute stick is also insufficient. Therefore, to meet their regular expenses such as education expenses for the children and medicine for the family members, often they need to borrow money from neighbors. Since they do not have other sources of income, thus it becomes impossible to pay back the borrowed money. Sometimes, she sells her jewelries to pay the indebted money.

    Ashkol is being used for jute extraction

    With such hardship in life, suddenly she came across about a jute extraction machine. She also heard about a project that would select entrepreneur for Jute extraction from their community. She got surprised to know that women would get equal partnership with men in this entrepreneurship. Without any hesitation, she shared her keen interest with her husband. After fulfilling all the requirements and receiving the training, she got the machine from Practical Action Bangladesh.

    During the season, after meeting all the expenses, she earns 1500 taka per day with her jute extraction machine. Since they have got better quality of fiber, thus she hopes to sell the jute fiber with a higher price (in compare with last year). In her words;

    Before, it required many days for jute retting and fiber extraction. Now with this machine, fiber extraction is done immediately and retting also takes less time. Thus, labour and time both are saved. That’s why, we could have made some profits.

    She informs that due to regular rainfall she was unable to dry the broken jute stick. But she has explored an innovative alternative about the raw jute sticks. She has rotten them in compost bin to make organic fertilizer. She will use the fertilizer in the crop. Along with that, she has plan to use the machine in multipurpose way throughout the year to secure income round the year.

    As a concluding reflection, it can be said that women like Sheuli in rural Bangladesh never (or hardly) have opportunity to give a try to develop and run some sort of enterprise. Sometimes, a few of them get development support and try to do like Sheuli in this case. Among them, a few of them become successful (of course many reasons will work behind) and are considered as role model in the community. But there are others as well, who could not make it a success. As many development interventions, now a day are not comprehensive (like in this project, we do not have any activity like community awareness around on gender & entrepreneurship; which  is very important to sensitize the community). Therefore, the problem that Sheuli has highlighted in her first statement will play around and continue creating problems in her way of empowerment. However, we need to continue putting our efforts some way or others. And if we can carefully and dedicatedly deal the issue, then big change may happen from this entrepreneurship initiative around the small technology- Aashkol.

     

    Acknowledgement:
    Md. Rezaul Karim (Community Mobilizer, Kurigram) for data collection & Sayeeda Afrose (Technical Supervisor, Kurigram) for drafting the case study.

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  • Prospects and challenges of introducing new sheep variety


    September 12th, 2017

    Whenever, we try to introduce new technology or new approach in our work, we provide special emphasis on our monitoring work. Recently, one of our MEL team members visited Thanahat union in Chilmar Upazila and interacted with 4 beneficiary households who have received improved sheep variety supports from Pumpkin against Poverty (PaP) Project. The visit has come across number of issues such as sheep rearing practices, challenges going through by the beneficiary, profit they are anticipating and obviously future planning to rear this type of improved sheep. This blog post is based on the reflection of the beneficiaries and observation of the MEL members.

    Being a staff of a technology focus organization, our efforts are always being invested around innovating new technologies that work for the poor or identifying appropriate technologies that have been working for poor for years. Under PaP Project, we have been doing the same. The main focus of the project is to support poor landless farmers- mostly women to produce pumpkin in the transitional land to help family move out of poverty. However, alongside with pumpkin production, there are also some technological supports that project is constantly providing and exploring alternative means of poverty alleviation. As a such effort, we have provided improved variety of garol sheep to some selected beneficiaries.

    The variety has been collected from Rajshahi, and has been introduced with aims to improve breed development (Hyderabad variety, India) in the north-west region of Bangladesh, popularize sheep rearing as alternative livelihood means, facilitate quick income earning by female beneficiary. Keeping these in mind, out of the 399 beneficiary households, only 10 households were given 3 sheep per households. The project has supported BDT 19680 (USD 240) per household and contribution from beneficiary themselves was BDT 5000 (USD 61). The expenses were occurred due to purchasing kid garol sheep, input and feed.

    The visit unveiled that there are two important advantages of this sheep variety. These are;
    • Grows so fast in compare with local variety
    • Eat locally available feed and all types of grass
    A short case on one of the beneficiary could better demonstrate the advantages.

    Golenur with her sheep

    Case of Golenur (35)
    One of the 4 beneficiaries is Golenur(35)- a housewife of Thanahat Union. She received 3 sheep in last week of March 2017. After a few days, she observed that in compare with other local variety her garol variety has been growing so fast. She estimated that the present market value of 3 sheep will be BDT 35000(USD 427). The total investment (from the project and own investment) was BDT 21680 (19680+5000). After 3 months, value of the sheep has been increased at 1.4 times. Most importantly, this variety of sheep eats all locally available feed and all types of grass. That’s why, she is now happy that one sheep is pregnant. She is also planning to increase number of sheep. Once she has the anticipated profit from the sheep, she will buy a milking cow to ensure daily income (by selling milk).

    Her son taking care of the sheep

    However, the farmers also pointed out some challenges that they have been going through. These are
    • Feed demand of new variety sheep is higher in compare with other local variety.
    • This type of sheep is very sensitive and becomes ill easily.
    • Close follow up and care are required for the good health and benefits.
    • Lastly but the least, feed crisis is very high during the monsoon. Poor farmers hardly can manage it.

    The growth of the sheep is really fast. Potential return of the investment is also assumed to be high in compare with local variety. However, the problems which have been identified need to be tackled, particularly alternative feed- for monsoon in particular needs to explored, only then this could be a viable livelihood option for the poor farmers in the region.

    Co-author of the post is Abdus Salam, Coordinator- Monitoring & Evaluation.

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  • Jute for environment, jute for employment


    August 23rd, 2017

    Practical Action, together with Karupannya Rangpur Ltd. – a champion jute product manufacturer, a national NGO RDRS and Rangpur Chamber of Commerce started to bring a significant change in jute textile value chain in four northern districts of Bangladesh. They made a breakthrough against conventional practice of  many years by introducing a new small fiber extraction machine funded by EU.  As a new start-up this season, 62 jute fibre extraction machines serving in four northern districts reached around 1200-1500 farmers. The machine was initially brought from China and further modified by Karupynnya Rangpur Ltd and largely introduced to farmers by Practical Action this year. It can extract 2-3 tons of green plant per day. The machine entrepreneurs charged 1500 taka per bigha (33 decimals) to farmers which is relatively cheaper than their manual labour cost. The operation requires 4-5 litre of diesel fuel per day and four man power (most cases husband and wife are
    entrepreneurs). Let me give a real example of this season. Nurul Haque lives in Vuridhoea village under Lalmonirat District, has 250 decimal arable lands who cultivates two varieties of Jute (Kenaf & Tosha) in his 94 decimal land. He was found enthusiastic of the Kenaf jute variety for its high productivity. Plant height of the jute was 15-16 feet and the fibre was much brighter would obviously attract comparatively higher price. Nurul Haque cultivates kenaf variety in 54 decimals, used the newly introduced semi-Automatic Machine (Aashkol) for separating jute stick and fibre and learned an improved jute retting system in ponds. Normally he used to pay Taka 2,000 to Taka 2,200 labour cost for threshing jute plants of one bigha of land, whereas he paid only taka 1,500 per bigha for using the machine. He is happy with the quality of fibre and extra 280 kg jute this time than the last year. Additionally he sold 55 mounds of  jute stick to a local trader at BDT. 4400 this season. He is expecting more profit of BDT 15000  from his 94 decimal land by using the new machine, new variety of jute seed and new retting process. Particular unique aspect of the machine is to secure eco-friendly jute fibre processing which will require less water, less labour and create less pollution to the water bodies. It will open new avenue for trading jute stick as a new industrial raw material in the local and global market. It will create new employment make our agro-economy resilient.​

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