Faruk Ul Islam

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Faruk Ul Islam,PhD is Head of Policy, Practice & Program Development at Practical Action, Bangladesh Email: faruk.islam@practicalaction.org.bd or faruk.practicalaction@gmail.com Twitter: @faruk2014ul

Recommended reading: http://www.practicalaction.org

Posts by Faruk

  • 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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  • “A dam and an apple both use water to bring us energy” I like the statement, Do you?

    September 11th, 2014

    From Stockholm World Water Week

    I can take you to Stockholm World Water Week saying “water does not come from tap” nicely sketched in a poster there. water tap posterThen where does it comes from and where does it go? From the top of mountain, from the ocean, under the ground, from lakes, rivers and also from your tears and used for drinking, irrigation, production of energy  and industry.

    It is expected that 47% of the world’s population will be living in high water stress areas by 2030 (OECD). Can you imagine the planet with high water stress? One of my fellow award nominees for Securing Water for Food was telling that the problem of our food security is having less freshwater as we are living in a salty planet. Therefore, obtaining more freshwater for us is a great task. I never thought our beautiful planet was so salty and agriculture is the biggest consumer of freshwater – 70% of total freshwater withdrawal.

    We know we need freshwater for human, other animals and nature. Therefore, what should be the model of our new agriculture? New water solutions? How can we apply nano, bio or solar technology to purifying polluted or saline water? Another interesting poster from IFAD strikes me that tells “a dam and an apple both use water to bring us energy”. I loved this statement. I have eaten many apples in life, seen many dams but never thought of this kind of simple relation. This was fantastic to explain food, energy and water nexus. By 2050, we will need 550% more energy and 330% more water to produce it (WorldBank). Among various sources 62% of hydroelectric potential remains untapped.

    There is information here about increasing water efficiency and reuse, reducing food waste, accelerating access, protecting and restoring ecosystems, reducing pollution, increasing affordability, supply, recycling and managing cross border cooperation, combating  salinity intrusion in the entire coast. How can we grow more food with less water is a big question. Moreover there is a crisis of safe drinking water and concern for 2.4 billion people lacking adequate sanitation.

    water pumpkinOn the subject of the USAID Water for Food Award event in the Conference, our innovation was a way to irrigate riverbeds for pumpkin and other crop farming in Bangladesh, transforming flooded unused sand bar to a golden pumpkin land and  testing this business model with the extreme poor. During the rehearsal round in the Conference Centre, one of the evaluators praised the seasonal dimension of land; they liked strong evidence in the field and the proven case of pumpkin growing and its low cost simple irrigation technique.

    Abdur Rahim- a sand bar farmer and irrigation entrepreneur from Gaibandha, Bangladesh invested around 116 US$ per crop cycle and got a return on 410 US$ per cycle, irrigation cost was around 13 US$, has been continuing last 4-5 years. He harvested 1500 pumpkins from 320 pits. One journalist here did an interview on the case. I told them, similar contexts exist in Asia and other parts of the world. They may use the same technology with a different crop. In Bangladesh we also can grow other vegetables in the sand bar. We welcome processors to make diverse pumpkin food products such as egg pumpkin noodles and invite distributors and buyers to buy it and take it to regional markets, calling investors for commercial finance to the poor farmers to produce in a large scale utilizing those seasonal cheap /free lands.

    The topics of other award winners were – drip irrigation in India, salt tolerant potatoes, salinity and rain water harvesting, water purification using simple solar technology, reel gardening, using water pad technology in planting, powering  irrigation with river current energy in Nepal, use of logged water in Sudan etc. – all innovative  ideas.

    apple damMy presentation at world water week as an award nominee  went well. The applause in the room was enough to make me brave. But there’s a long way to go.  Here are 17 innovative ideas of water for food. Not only USAID, SIDA, DFID etc. but many corporates are also working on water issues. Did you know the Coca-Cola Company works to conserve and protect freshwater resources? Do you know Nestle works for access to clean water and nutrition?

    I learnt many things about sanitation too. Perhaps we need to combine our business, technical, leadership and environmental perspective together to make change happen. For example, flush toilet technology is a very old sanitation technology. ……. in 1596, a flush toilet was invented and built for Queen Elizabeth I by her Godson, Sir John Harrington. We are still using that in modern life (quoted from a learned speaker).

    Do we think about how much water we are flushing away every day in the globe? Can we not find a more water saving technology? On one hand we need to give access to toilet to millions of people but that is not enough we also need to rethink our technological advances. Can you imagine a small sunlight activated lily pad can clean huge waste water from lakes and ponds for us? Not very big …but small technical changes can bring big difference to the world. From all these I can imagine yes poverty (such as income, water, food, energy) can be eradicated but we must be prepared as it has many different faces.

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