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Traveling seminar in Bangladesh promotes resource-conserving technologies

During the past 10-15 years, CIMMYT, as part of the Rice- Wheat Consortium, has worked to improve use of the two-wheel tractor—the preferred implement for farmers in Bangladesh. CIMMYT has developed a seeder that allows farmers to efficiently seed their crops using conservation agriculture (CA) and resource-conserving technologies (RCTs). This seeder provides a dramatic reduction in tillage on flat or permanent raised beds during seeding and reduces turn-around time between crops.

Farmers in West Bengal, India, an area very similar to Bangladesh, have started to buy two-wheel tractors to assist with conventional tillage. In response, CIMMYT arranged a traveling seminar from 16-23 September 2008 to show how these two-wheel tractors can be used with CA-based RCTs in West Bengal. Six scientists and technology transfer agents from West Bengal traveled to Bangladesh where they visited key CA locations where two-wheel tractors are used and met with Bangladeshi scientists.

Ravi Gopal Singh, CIMMYT CA agronomist based in Begusarai, Bihar, India, organized the traveling seminar and is in charge of CIMMYT’s collaborative CA-based activities in the eastern IGP of India. He was assisted by Enamul Haque, CIMMYT Senior Program Manager in charge of coordinating CIMMYT’s CA-based field activities in Bangladesh, and Anton Adhikari, CIMMYT administrator in Bangladesh. Participants met with farmers in Rajbari to discuss reduced seed tilling using power tiller operated seeders (PTOS) and visited the Regional Wheat Research Center in Rajshahi to observe long-term permanent raised bed trials and investigate various raised bed planting systems.

At the Wheat Research Center near Dinajpur, the West Bengal participants interacted with farmers who had adopted various CA technologies. They were introduced to various CA-based implements for reduced, strip, and zero-tillage seeding as well as to service providers who assist their clients with the adoption of these CA-based technologies. Other locations included the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Gazipur, and the Regional Agricultural Research Station in Jamalpur. CIMMYT hopes to help interested parties in West Bengal obtain prototypes of these implements to be tested and used in local farming.