Mohammad Kamrul Islam Bhuiyan


Sr. Knowledge Officer (M&E), Practical Answers, Practical Action, Bangladesh

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Posts by Mohammad Kamrul Islam

  • Lights, Camera, Action: Reflections from the Access Agriculture video training in Bangladesh

    May 24th, 2017

    It is very easy to make videos with your mobile phone but when your aspirations are to share the film globally, and with a specific audience in mind, it is not

    Over the last two weeks colleagues from Bangladesh and Nepal participated in a video training workshop provided by Access Agriculture in the Northern part of Bangladesh. Access Agriculture are a key partner of Practical Answers, our technical information service, providing and sharing technical solutions to solve agricultural challenges!

    Practical Action staff learning how to use video

    The training took place over a 12 day period. Four trainers, from England, Belgium and Kenya, led the course- they were very friendly, and ensured an engaging and insightful experience for all involved!

    Prior to the training we selected, among our colleagues, three video topics: 1. Rearing sheep and goats on a raised platform, 2. Mango grafting and 3. Sorting and storing pumpkins. Before filming it is important to have a good script ; we discussed our prepared scripts so that we could receive feedback from the group.

    The video production process consists of:

    • Issue selection
    • Research desk work
    • Script writing 1st draft
    • Feedback from specialist or relevant persons
    • Recce (the process of visiting and quickly looking around a place in order to find out information)

    The recce process was  very new to me. After visiting the site we revised our scripts as we had gathered new information that would enhance the original drafts. In between this time we prepared some questions to take to interview: why should you store pumpkin, which pumpkins can be stored, how to protect pumpkins during storage etc. Then we went for filming.

    Around 280 clips of footage was collected in four days, ranging between 2-8 minutes in length. At this stage 70% of work is completed within the production process. The remaining 30% consists of:

    • Input footage-logging/selecting
    • Transcription
    • Translation of audio
    • Incorporating translations into the revised script
    • Record voice over
    • Final edit

    We used an editing software called Light Works, it is interesting as tasks are auto-saved. However, before editing we need to arrange the files into a specific computer drive. We learnt that for structured content it is important to consider using subtitle, voiceover and interview-translation using different voices. When using graphics you should consider cutaway pictures and moving shots. You should be aware of issues such as the height of the camera and ensuring there is action in the frame. You should also consider having music, title captions, name captions, background sound and edit credits.

    When taking footage it is important to understand the different types of shots, they are:

    • GV: General View
    • VLS = Very Long Shot
    • LS = Long Shot
    • MLS = Medium Long Shot, it also call 3/4 shot
    • MS = Mid Shot
    • MCU = Medium Close Up
    • CU = Close Up
    • BCU = Big Close Up


    When taking a shot we used a tripod to ensure the filming was smooth, and not shaky!

    Our video on pumpkin sorting and storing will soon be available online in French, Bangla and English. This training course was a fantastic learning opportunity, and I look forward to putting my learning into practice! These newly acquired skills will allow us to better share knowledge in video format! Videos produced will be shared through the Access Agriculture network meaning our technical knowledge and experience can be used by many more practitioners.

    Visit Access Agriculture to learn more about work, and future training opportunities.

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  • Our farmers are not millionaires, do you know why?

    October 14th, 2015

    We do not need to smoke, but tobacco producers are millionaires; we do not need to drink wine/carbonated drinks, but those businesses are also making millions. We need rice, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs – these are our daily necessities, but the producers of these commodities… I am sorry I cannot say that they are millionaires. Most of them are poor and are still living below poverty line.

    Krishi Call Centre advertisement stricker
    Practical Action has always answered queries in the development sector. Today, around 30 members of the staff from 10 different countries in Practical Answers are now appointed to answer questions.

    Practical Answers Bangladesh team has built a Krishi (agriculture) Call Centre with the promise of providing agriculture related information and services in partnership with the Department of Agriculture & Extension under the Ministry of Agriculture.

    The journey of Krishi Call Centre started in 2011-12 with the aim to support rural farmers who are living in remote areas of the country. During the test period, we received around 20,000 calls from 18,000 clients through an eleven digit number for farmers to connect the centre and farmers are charged 0.65 BDT/minute. ‍Subsequently, in 2014, the government made the centre toll free (The connection number is 16123 from Bangladesh only) just for 6 months. Thanks to our Ministry of Local Government for that initiative. After that time Government has declared the lowest rate (0.25 BDT/min excluding vat and surcharge) for the farmers. This is indeed a very good initiative.

    However, with the help of donors, the centre may not continue its work in the long run. The Government should take it to a revenue model; otherwise it will be very difficult to sustain.

    Coming back to what I said at the start, if a farmer gets support from a remote place for his agricultural production, it will be valuable for our economy as well as Gross Domestic Product – GDP. As Bangladesh still relies on agricultural based economy, the government should take the necessary steps to make the Krishi Call Centre sustainable and a successful project.

    Krishi Call Centre

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  • Empowering women for access to agriculture extension services

    January 21st, 2015

    Urgent call for action

    Bangladesh has tremendous achievements in some indicators of MDGs like poverty, maternal and child mortality reduction. It has done better even other social indices like reducing gender gaps in primary and secondary schools. However there are still big gaps in women’s employment in the formal sector but in informal sectors they participate significantly.

    According to Health Bulletin 2012 Bangladesh total population is around 150 million as per population census 2011 and the male female ratio is 100.3:100. So the number of male and female population in Bangladesh is quite similar.

    Bangladesh has one of the highest mobile penetrations in the developing world, around 90% people have that access. However there is lacked of available data regarding male and female owners of mobile phones. It is perceived that in urban areas more women have access than rural areas.  Our labour force data shows that among the employed population 37.9% male and 16.2% are female. Globally a large number of women in developing countries participate in the agricultural sector directly. However they participate actively in farming production but not in the decision making process, product marketing and major ownership of the profits of production. This might be due to their lower access to information and knowledge services.

    Bangladesh is envisioning becoming a middle income country by giving more emphasis to a knowledge based economy. One of the strategies of Practical Action’s Knowledge Services is to make the services diversified so that people will have more access to those services. Our agriculture focused Krishi Call Centre -short code number 16123 – is now blooming very rapidly among the targeted people following promotional activities. It reached 10,000 calls in December 2014 which was only around 50% of call from the queue.

    From these calls over the last three months, we manually recorded 5,489 Technical Enquiries (TES) in our database (October 2014 to December 2014). Revealing data of Krishi Call Centre it has found (Table: 1) only 100 women enquired out of the 5,489 total that is only 1.8% of female enquirers asked for enquiry service! Similarly Technical Enquiries collected from knowledge centres during this period shows that only 33 women enquired from the total enquirers of 1375.  So there were only 133 women enquirers both from Krishi Call Centre and Knowledge Centres during October to December 2014 out of 6,864 enquiries.

    Table 1: Gender and subject enquiries from Krishi Call Centre

     Subject of enquiry Total Gender
    Female Male
    Agriculture 3557 49 3508
    Livestock 1154 44 1110
    Fisheries 778 7 771
     Total 5489 100 5389

    When we classified the women enquirers regarding subject sectors then it has found that Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries enquirers are followed by 1.3%, 3.8% and 0.8%, respectively. Here Livestock enquiries are higher than Agriculture and Fisheries sectors.

    Woman providing irrigation for cultivating sweet gourd in the sand bar

    Woman providing irrigation for cultivating sweet gourd in the sand bar

    Do not Bangladeshi women talk? If they talk then what is their interest? How much access do they have to ICT devices? Around 90% of people have a mobile phone but can we say that truly women have the entitlement to call a Krishi Call Centre for agriculture support? It might be not. They might be entitled to call only their husbands and other household members. It might be that their husband would not allow them to call outside as Krishi Call Centre is a public entity.  Our women are less entitled to go outside to market places, tea stalls and village fairs as predominantly males have access into those rural knowledge hubs for seeking information and knowledge.

    The knowledge seeking behaviour of women and access to participation of women in planning and marketing of farming production is different from men. They depend on their elderly women relatives and husbands.  If they do not have access to the decision making process and control over resources for what they grows then why do they feel concern for that production? Therefore we see that there is near about double TES rate in the livestock enquirers echoed that more women still in Bangladesh are engaged with rearing domestic animals like poultry, cows, goats and ducks in their houses what they used to do traditionally. This might be still they have control over those resources both in the management and earning over sales.  But for fish farming it is fully depend on male person’s activity.

    The overall goal of the Practical Answer’s program is to facilitate knowledge services among all stakeholders in poverty alleviation efforts–development practitioners, extension workers, government officers, researchers, and people’s representatives.

    We need to think how we can engage our huge number of female population to this enquiry stream. They must have enquiries and they need the answers. All development practitioners need to create an enabling environment for women who make up 50% of our population into the different channels of extension services like Krishi Call Centre to answers their enquiries. By promoting  in the entitlements of ICT based knowledge devices to women workers in agriculture and on farms we can achieve a positive impact on our economy as well as social development.

    Authors: Md. Kamrul Islam Bhuiyan, Sr. Knowledge Officer (M&E) and Md. A. Halim Miah, Coordinator- Operations, Knowledge Management, Practical Action, Bangladesh.  


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  • Counterfeit Products Make the Poor Poorer

    November 20th, 2014

    Protection of counterfeitLast year, I presented a paper in ICT4Ag conference, Kigali, Rwanda.  One of the most interesting presentations I saw was ‘Counterfeit Products Make the Poor Poorer’ by Kisitu Bruce, Consultant, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).

    According to Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), fake agro chemicals account for about 30% of the total agrochemical market. Research reveals that our farmers are using 10-15 times more pesticide for fruit production and 10 times for vegetable production, which really are very bad for environment and peoples’ health. This also increases production costs and decreases the crop production.

    A farmer goes to an agro dealer shop to purchase herbicide to spray on weeds in his garden. After 7-14 days of spraying, he goes to the garden again and realizes that the weeds have instead grown further. This is possibly because he used fake herbicide.

    Fake products not only affect the farmers but lead to unfair trade, undesirable effects to the environment, loss to the economy, loss of employment and people become poorer.

    The International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) developed a simple mobile tool, which, works with both smart and standard phones. It was piloted by IFDC with collaboration from Croplife Africa Middle East (CLAME), Croplife Uganda (CLU) and Government of Uganda by using a technology similar to that used by telecoms for airtime top-up. This technology is widely used even in rural areas and on standard mobile phones. This technology was developed by Sproxil and was first used to protect Nigerian consumers from fake diabetes medication.

    Croplife Africa Middle East (CLAME) developed a sticker with three levels of authentication. These included a holospot (ideal for inspectors), barcode and scratch off label. The stickers were placed on three product categories and distributed in the market. A farmer visited an agro dealer shop, paid for the agro chemical and was encouraged to scratch and authenticate immediately after purchase. After scratching, a 12 digit number is displayed which you send via SMS to a short code and within 20 seconds receive a message notifying them whether the product is genuine or fake.

    The results were captured using a very simple mobile inventory tracking application developed by the IFDC team. The tool was used by the agro dealers to track as well as report the movement of their stock.  The partners concluded that the methodology – a combination of e-verification, retailer training and outreach to farmers – represents a viable means of substantially reducing, and eventually eliminating, counterfeit inputs.

    The key issue here is to get all telecoms and governments agree that this type of intervention is of potential economic benefit.  So, everyone should collaborate to enable cross-carrier toll free numbers or drastically reduce the SMS costs for such interventions.

    One of the things, I have learnt, is you cannot implement such a project on your own. You need to capitalize on existing expertise, knowledge and resources.

    The pilot presents and promotes an intelligent and well-designed strategy for the elimination of counterfeit inputs, informed by past experience and this strategy can easily be adopted in other sectors like health and consumer products, which are equally affected by counterfeit.

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  • How to deal with media – for development sector/NGO professionals

    September 24th, 2014

    Last Friday, I was in a training program on ‘How to deal with media – for development sector/NGO professionals’ organized by a National Daily. It was all about dealing with media people. Mr. Jamil Ahmed – CEO of Journalism Training and Research Institute – BRAC University was the facilitator. Here are ideas as starter on learning about media.

    The Participants in the event.

    The Participants in the event.

      1. A journalist database: It is very useful to have a journalist team well informed about your work but if you do not have such forum you can develop a database. You need to collect name, mobile number, official phone number, visiting time (before 4 pm), skype, email address, official address. Do not forget to include their personal information such as date of birth and anniversary date to wish them on their special days. If you have his/her spouse mobile number that could be more useful during crisis.
      2. A Media kit to tell more about your organization and work : Collate hard copies or a soft copy (pen drive) of organizations profile, brochure, annual report , policy position papers, policy note, program briefing paper, press release and other information as a media kit to give media people. Media communication person should have all this in his bag and/or in a CD so that whenever s/he meet media person can provide those documents quickly.
      3. Relation building materials: You can produce some small promotional material in advance to offer them to remember you. It could be: T-shirt, Mug, key rings, diary etc. These sorts of gift item helps a lot in rapport building. It could be provided from organization and one can put it into his/her bag always.
      4. Who are the Media Gatekeepers?: All person of a media are not the contact point to publish your news or articles. It may vary by media. So it is better to identify who are the focal people for publishing news and communicate with them to publish news.
      5. Regular Media visit: Not just at the time you need them, a communication officer should always visit targeted media house at least once in a month.
      6. Inviting, engaging media people: In your organization you have been organising many workshops, seminar symposiums. It would be better if you engage/invite a media person on those programs as ‘resource person’ or as ‘key note speaker’ or to play an editing role in your knowledge products.
      7. Press release: It requires special skills to write a communicative press release. Make a short title, place and date, organization’s short profile/overview, event, appeal for publish/coverage, contact person name, mobile number, email. If someone misses any of the above information the press release may not be published. Caring about a compelling story, understanding audience, expressing simplicity, brevity, repetition of the main issue and positivity is very important to write your press release.

    All these seems to be very simple things but very important to communicate media people.

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  • Journey of Krishi Call Centre: Hello……16123

    August 19th, 2014

    The toll free Krishi Call centre in Bangladesh has received 2496 calls over the last 2 months and per day 52 calls after it formally launched this free number 16123.

    fruitThis is the monsoon period and average temperature 36°C. Many fruits grow so this month is called ‘Modhu mas (month of honey)”. People have access to many varieties of indigenous fruits, a major source of low cost vitamins for the majority of poor and extreme poor.  As well as seasonal fruits  the good news for the Bangladeshi people is they have got toll free number to call from any mobile without payment to get advice and information related to agriculture from the Krishi Call Centre, a joint initiative of Practical Action Bangladesh and Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.  Therefore we see very rapidly it has become popular and people’s are asking questions about their real needs.

    Chart in Microsoft Word copyAnalyzing the last two months of calls to this centre, we have found most of the enquiries were from crop sub-sectors and rice related questions are more frequent than others. They were about rice pests, diseases, fertilizer dosage and high yielding varieties. Besides there were also some enquiries about how to control disease and pests of vegetables. It is interesting that pattern of questions were mostly based on seasonal characteristics, related crops intensity and problems faced by the farmers. Currently it is summer in Bangladesh and average humidity is (82-86%) therefore growth of the insect population is high.

    Summer is called as “Modhu mas” (month of honey) as there is a lot of fruit produced in this seasonlike guava, jack fruit, mango, pineapple, papaya and banana. So peoples also asked frequently how to protect those fruits from rotting.

    Diseases of cows, ducks, goats, sheep and some birds like pigeons and farming related questions were the major part of livestock queries. Specially, fish drying and, growth problems are the most common for fishery related questions to the call centre.

    Examples of enquiries

    Tarikul Islam, a farmer from Sirajganj wanted to get advice on how to protect his paddy field from Majra puka (Tryporyza incertulas – yellow stem borer).  This  insect is a common paddy pest in Bangladesh. Niharika Das Gupta who holds a Master’s in Agriculture, from Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agriculture University is one of the call centre executives. She suggested, “You can use a hand net to catch and kill those insects. Besides you can use light trap or duck rearing in rice field are also helpful to control this insect.”  These are all organic ways to control pests. One of the extension policies of the Department of Agriculture in Bangladesh is to promote Integrated Pest Management. Therefore our trained call executive took the opportunity to promote this method as well as reduce the misuse of chemical pest control. We know that chemical pest control in early stage of growing rice also destroys beneficial insects like ladybird beetles and insect predator frogs which is not good for environment.

    Md Jahedul Islam from Rangpur posted a question to our veterinary expert Rasha Farzana, who is a Doctor of Veterinary and Medicine (DVM), a fresh University graduate.  Jahedul enquired, “My cow urine is reddish”. The expert answered him to test urine in nearby upazila livestock office so that he would be confirmed whether it was Babesiosis disease of cow. She added after diagnosis of urine he should consult with nearest Upazila Livestock Officer.

    advertAt present we do not have  a massive media campaign like advertisements in daily newspapers, television and radio because these may increase the already large call volume per day and it would be impossible to tackle these with only three call executives.  Long waiting times may mean that people are not keen to call again which would create a negative impression of the call centre. However the Bangladesh Government has already allocated  budget to recruit more staff for the Krishni Call Centre.

    Since it is a specialized area, in many cases call executives may not be able to provide instant answer of those technical enquiries. So Practical Action Bangladesh has developed a Call Centre Content Management System (CMS), wherea  huge number of agriculture, livestock and fisheries-related technical questions and answers are uploaded. Besides the call centre has a collection of relevant books, booklet, brochure, journal, magazines, multimedia contents and different agricultural websites.  The call centre maintains an expert pool who are connected with call executives to transfer the relevant enquirer to the respective expert.

    Agriculture is a major employment sector in Bangladesh and positioned second in contribution to the country’s total GDP.  Bangladesh’s rice production tripled from 1970s and crop intensity has increased from 153% to 179% in three decades yet there is much scope to improve along with challenges like reducing cultivable land per annum, increasing risks of climate change and frequencies of natural disasters where farmers need real time agricultural advice.

    Krishi Call centre is the, timely initiative in the country’s existing extension services as this has created diversity, reduce dependency on extension agents and created access to poor and marginalized farmers in the extension services.

    Authors: Md. Kamrul Islam Bhuiyan, Sr. Knowledge Officer (M&E), Practical Action, Bangladesh and Md. A. Halim Miah, Coordinator- Operations, Knowledge Management, Practical Action, Bangladesh.  

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