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Agricultural mechanization highlighted at farmers’ field day in Bangladesh

Shahidul Haque Khan

To introduce modern agricultural machines to farmers of Jhenaidah, Bangladesh, a farmers’ field day (FFD) was held on 17 November 2015 at the M.K. High School, Kulfadanga, Maharajpur, Jhenaidah. The FFD was jointly organized by CIMMYT and IRRI under the USAID funded projects Cereal System Initiative for South Asia­Mechanization and Irrigation (CSISA-MI) and Rice Value Chain (RVC).

Sk. Nazim Uddin, Mechanization Project Director at Bangladesh’s Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said that farmers need modern agricultural machinery and proper training, which is being provided by CIMMYT.

While addressing farmers, chief guest Hamidur Rahman, DAE Director General, pointed out that USAID funded agricultural projects are playing a vital role in introducing agricultural mechanization in Bangladesh and said, “Our population is increasing, whereas the cultivable land is decreasing day by day; we need to adopt complete mechanized systems in agriculture to meet the challenge of producing more food from less land. In this context, CIMMYT and IRRI are doing a great job that everybody should know about.” He also expressed his satisfaction with the public-private partnership initiated by CIMMYT’s CSISA-MI project. William J. Collis, CSISA-MI Senior Project Leader, expressed his hope that mechanization will push forward the agriculture of Bangladesh within the next 10 years and thanked the private sector for its continuous support of the country’s agricultural machinery sector.

At the field day, participating farmers learned about modern agro-machinery and mechanized cropping systems that help reduce tillage to conserve soil health, while saving time, labor, and expenses, and maximizing profit. Detailed discussions were held on how to make tillage options accessible at a lower price, and increase the use of machines through local service providers (LSP). A significant number of farmers expressed their willingness to become LSPs and earn extra income. They also requested subsidies for purchasing the agro-machines and starting their own business.

Farmers and guests later visited field plots where they witnessed demonstrations of several machines, such as a rice transplanter and reaper, a new planter called the hand crank spreader, and the power tiller operated seeder. These demonstrations were presented by private sector companies RFL, Metal, ACI, and Janata Engineering as part of their agro-machinery promoting activities. Afterward, a feedback session was conducted where farmers and LSPs expressed their opinions of the machines, their use and profitability.

Other special guests at the field day were Muhammad Nuruzzaman, Project Management-Coordinator, Economic Growth, USAID Bangladesh; Md. Sirajul Islam, Chief Scientific Officer, RARS, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Jessore; Subrata Kumar Chakrabarty, Project Manager, CSISA-MI, CIMMYT; and Kevin Robbins, Deputy Project Manager, CSISA-MI, iDE-Bangladesh. The program was chaired by Khairul Abrar, Additional Director, DAE, Jessore. Also present were Deputy Directors of DAE from Jessore, Magura, Jhenaidah, Chuadanga, Meherpur and Kushtia districts; the Chairman and members of Kulfadanga Union Parishad, local elites, school teachers, and large numbers of farmers.