How iDE Bangladesh’s Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) links farmers to new agricultural technologies and retailers.
Richard Rose came to visit us at iDE UK in a whirlwind of news and progress from Bangladesh. He described the Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) with well-founded pride and enthusiasm. His team have been improving agriculture technology transfer systems for poor smallholder entrepreneurs, which has increased the production and marketing of nutritious foods.
The EU funded the project in partnership with iDE, three international centres from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – World Fish, CIMMYT, IRRI, Save the Children International and national partners in Bangladesh – CODEC – and Nepal – BES and CEAPRED. ANEP seeks to sustainably raise agricultural productivity and promote effective market linkages to improve the nutrition of poor rural and urban households in the south of Bangladesh and the Nepal plains.
Food insecurity and malnourishment are major issues in Bangladesh and iDE are targeting the most vulnerable groups: pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. ANEP works with Save the Children to provide nutritional education about which foods to buy and how this impacts on the cognitive development of children. It then forges relationships between rural famers, the urban poor and agricultural industries.
To support the commercialization of small-holder agriculture ANEP hosts pre-season production planning meetings (PSPMs). These bring buyers (output traders) and sellers of key agro-inputs such as seeds and fertilizers (inputs traders) together to plan production volumes, quality standards, schedule harvests, and aggregate produce. The ANEP also invites market intermediaries to bring along new technologies and explain the benefits for farmers. For example, a demonstration of how packaged maize seeds can provide a better yield than recycling seeds from last year’s crop. Responding directly to the market’s needs in this way generates a much more reliable income, boosts business for agricultural technologies and the farmers get free training on how to increase production without using GM crops or harmful pesticides. This enables farmers and the local private sector to benefit from greater security of sales and builds greater trust to work collaboratively together in the future.
After a good harvest it’s time for the ANEP food festivals. These bring farmers to the slums to sell fresh produce to urban consumers with poor access to nutritious foods. The ANEP always team think creatively about how to support local traders and strategies remain flexible in order to achieve the best outcomes. This often involves learning quickly in the field. In the case of the food festivals, the first of these was a traditional affair, with formal readings and attendance lists. But this didn’t get the results the team wanted. The festival needed to be more fun. So the following day the ANEP team recruited entertainers to sing about health foods for urban consumers – a great success! Women farmers came to sell their Indian Spinach, which was not sold locally, and each made the equivalent of $20 in just two hours. For the next big event the team are considering live cooking classes and tasty food samples.
ANEP is benefitting 60,000 people in Bangladesh and Nepal. After three years iDE will have completed their role in the project and will have facilitated relationships between the farmers, traders, and consumers which will continue in the future.
For a summary of Agrilinks Twitter chat on serving the poorest smallhold farmers: http://agrilinks.org/blog/links-links-and-more-links-recap-askag-twitter-chat-serving-poorest-smallholder-farmers
For more on our work in Bangladesh: http://www.ide-bangladesh.org/
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