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Traveling workshop in Bangladesh brings together researchers and farmers

The ACIAR-funded project “Sustainable intensification of rice-maize (R-M) systems in Bangladesh” organized a traveling workshop from 04 to 08 October in Rajshahi and Rangpur districts of Bangladesh for project-employed researchers and their supervisors in four collaborating organizations (Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute-BARI; Bangladesh Rice Research Institute-BRRI; Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee-BRAC; and Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Services-RDRS). Two researchers from IRRI and CIMMYT offices in Bangladesh also participated in the workshop led by Jagadish Timsina, IRRI-CIMMYT senior scientist and project  leader/coordinator.

Participants visited trials on direct-seeded rice (DSR) using conservation agriculture (CA) technologies and nutrient management (NM) in farmers’ fields and research stations in five Upazillas (subdistricts) in Rangpur and Rajshahi districts. At each location, they were joined by local farmers already using the technologies who cited their advantages (e.g., higher yields, shorter crop cycles, and not having to wait for rain to begin planting).

During the workshop, participants viewed different machines that are used with CA technologies, such as the power-tiller operated seeder (PTOS), the zero-till drill, and the Sayre Smart Planter, as well as trials comparing farmers’ practices with different CA technologies (e.g., DSR sown on raised beds, on beds with the PTOS, or on strips using the PTOS). At BRRI Station, they observed a largescale, long term experiment sponsored by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) on the R-M system focusing on DSR and transplanted rice (TPR) under different tillage practices (zero, conventional), weed control methods, and productivity and nutrient balances.

The highlight of the workshop was a visit to the ACIAR rice-maize on-farm trials in Alipur village in Durgapur Upazilla. Alipur farmers have been growing wheat and other crops on beds using CA technologies with assistance from the Bangladesh Regional Wheat Research Center (WRC) and CIMMYT, as well as TPR on manually-made beds using their own innovations. During discussions farmers mentioned some advantages of growing unpuddled TPR on beds: ease of management; less irrigation needed; fewer insects and rats; greater grainfilling; and higher grain yield. Another topic of discussion was the use of short-duration rice varieties (e.g., BRRI dhan 33, BRRI dhan 39, BINA dhan 7, and BU-1) to intensify cropping systems.

Finally, the workshop provided ample opportunity for project researchers and their supervisors to interact and share experiences, which will help cement their relationship and allow them to work together more effectively in the future.