On 20 February, Lumpkin and Bänziger accompanied the staff of CIMMYT-Bangladesh —cropping system agronomists T.P. Tiwari (country liaison officer), Mahesh Kumar Gathala, and Timothy Krupnik, and agricultural economist Frederick Ross— to a dinner meeting with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Secretary Monzur Hossain, MoA Additional Secretary M.A. Hamid, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) Executive Chairman Wais Kabir, BARI Director General Rafiqul I. Mondal, and government scientists. The dinner discussion covered the general state of agriculture in the country and the long-standing collaboration between the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and CIMMYT, a partnership established in 1973 and formalized in 1982. Hossain and Kabir highlighted the importance of the collaboration and lauded CIMMYT for its continuous support in terms of enhancing BARI capacity to promote maize and wheat in Bangladesh as part of the quest to achieve food security in the country. “CIMMYT-Bangladesh has a very strong presence with a great, proactive team,” added Kabir. Lumpkin then briefed the distinguished guests on CIMMYT’s regional focus, including the latest developments regarding the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), and thanked the GoB for facilitating CIMMYT’s work in the country.
The following day, Dinabandhu Pandit, CIMMYT-CSISA cropping systems agronomist, organized a field tour to the Mymensingh Hub of the CSISA-BD project. Accompanied by farmers and staff of partner organizations (IRRI, BARI, Department of Agriculture and Extension, Bangladesh Agricultural University, CARE Bangladesh, and ASPADA), Pandit led the team across the Old Brahmaputra River to Char Jelkhana to observe on-going activities initiated in the 2011/12 winter season. The location used to be limited to black gram cultivation and grazing, but thanks to the successful demonstration of maize and wheat by CIMMYT-CSISA on this charland (charlands are islands formed by river sedimentation) and in neighboring villages, local farmers have expanded the area under maize and wheat cultivation by 743% (4.7 ha to 39.4 ha). They are planning to further expand these crops next year.
Upon their return to Dhaka, the team visited the BARI campus in the Gazipur District. Mondal welcomed the CIMMYT director general and deputy director general and explained BARI’s focus and reach before a tour of the station to observe wheat and maize breeding work coordinated by senior wheat breeder Naresh Chandra Barma and BARI Hybrid Maize Program leader Bhagya Rani Banik.
On the last day of the visit, a breakfast meeting was held with USAID representatives David Yanggen and Anar Khalilov. Lumpkin and Bänziger acknowledged and thanked USAID for supporting CIMMYT-Bangladesh through the CSISA-BD project, and briefed USAID on CIMMYT’s focus in the region. They discussed the importance of diversification and sustainable production of maize in Bangladesh, as well as ways to enhance adoption of new technologies. Yanggen and Khalilov agreed that the forthcoming proposal from CIMMYT emphasizing agricultural mechanization and surface irrigation for southern Bangladesh is a very exciting initiative that USAID is keen to support. They appreciated CIMMYT’s work in Bangladesh and encouraged CIMMYT-CSISA to continue developing short, simple, and effective communication materials on successes in the field.
Following breakfast, Lumpkin and Bänziger visited the office of CIMMYT-Bangladesh to meet the staff, discuss their thoughts and concerns, and thank everyone for their good work.