More fields in Barisal region in southern Bangladesh are now being irrigated faster and more efficiently, as Local Service Providers (LSPs) have started using CSISA-MI’s Axial Flow Pumps (AFPs) for irrigation. The AFP, researched and promoted by the USAID-funded CSISA-MI project, part of President Obama’s Feed the Future (FtF) Campaign, is marketed and sold in local communities by agricultural retailer RFL. CSISA-MI promotes and supports sales of the irrigators to help increase dry season production in southern Bangladesh. Over the past six months since the project started, 46 AFPs have been purchased in the Barisal region, 35 of which are already deployed irrigating dry season crops. Attachable to a common two-wheeled tractor, the AFPs are easy to use and deploy. They have already irrigated 3.5 hectares of land owned by a total of 1,825 farmers in the target region. RFL aims to sell 165 of the machines by the end of March and irrigate at least 10.5 hectares of land. Participating LSPs report that a low-lift pump, currently the most common irrigation machine in Barisal, can irrigate about 16 hectares of land in one dry season; the AFP, however, can cover at least 24 hectares. LSPs’ revenues are increasing, with some earning more than 15 percent over the last year. Not only are the AFPs more efficient, they are more cost effective. LSPs estimate they can irrigate 0.40 hectares of land in 90 minutes with 1.5 liters of fuel and one laborer. In contrast, the low lift pumps take two hours and two liters of fuel to irrigate the same area. AFPs conserve at least $1.30 per day.
Like many other farmers of Bangladesh, forty-year-old Ashim Halder of Batiaghata Upazila in Khulna is also skilled in carpentry, earning extra money on the side by offering carpentry services to neighbors. This ability turned out for Ashim to be the key to innovate a wooden seed plate for the Bed Planter. Besides maize and wheat, the machine now also works for Sunflower seed plantation.
The Bed Planter is a new piece of technology introduced by USAID’s CSISA-MI project. The machine, marketed by agricultural retailer ACI, allows Local Service Providers (LSPs) like Halder to add seed to the farms as they plow – drastically increasing the rate at which land is prepared and the value of their services.
“I wanted to plant Sunflower with this machine, but it had no plate for Sunflower seed. They (CSISA-MI) said it’ll take two weeks to research on this. But by that time, plantation time would be over. So, I thought to try… within hours and after few trial and errors, I made the plate,” says Halder, describing how his innovation improved the Bed Planter and saved him from waiting till next Sunflower season.
Halder purchased the machine under the voucher scheme of CSISA-MI. “It cost 10,000 taka (US $128.62)… though the actual price is 40,000 taka (US $514.47). For this, I have to cultivate at least 8.1 hectares of land by this season (April). I already cultivated around 6.5 hectares. Once I fulfill the condition, I plan to cultivate another 2.0 hectares this season.”
Last season, at least 10 laborers were needed to cultivate and plant seed for a 0.1 hectares plot. This season, Halder has not only saved this cost, but his fuel and seed costs are actually half. Female members of his family are also relieved from a large work load. “Before (in plantation) at least 10 laborers used to work for a week. The women had to cook and serve meals three times a day for the laborers. In comparison, they are quite relaxed now,” says one of the female neighbors of Halder.
CSISA-MI’s innovation, combined with Halder’s hard work and ingenuity, are already improving lives of farmers and LSPs as labor scarcity is high in the rural as well as not affordable for smallholder farmers. It also contributing to increase production during dry season in the region.
Like many rural families in Bagarpara Upazilla Khulna division, Jessore, Bangladesh, Md. Tariqul Islam and his family make their living from agriculture. In addition to cultivating his family farm, Islam uses specialized machinery to cultivate land for neighboring farmers. “I used a simple two wheeled tractor (2WT) before,” says Islam, describing the most common agricultural technology in the region, “and these conventional power tillers have limited facility in comparison to the SFD.” The SFD, or Seeder Fertilizer Drill, is a technology introduced by USAID’s CSISA-MI project that allows local service providers like Islam to plant, fertilize and plow at the same time – drastically increasing the rate at which land is prepared and the value of their services. “When SFD was demonstrated in our village, I was impressed by its facilities of tillage, seeding and laddering simultaneously. It offers fertilizing facilities also. This year I have cultivated 10.5 hectares and given services to around fifty farmers. Last year with the 2WT, I had to plow much more land to earn the same amount.” “The cost of SFD is $745 and I bought it from a local dealer at $280. I paid the balance through a voucher program, which required that I cultivate at least eight hectares over the following three months. After two months, I’ve already completed more than that.” With this investment, he has earned $400 in less than two months. “The Seed Fertilizer Drill has helped to grow my business. With the additional income, we have leased an additional plot of land to grow lentils,” said Md. Tariqul Islam. Islam also runs a crop stock business, buying wheat, lentils and jute when prices are low and re-selling them as prices increase. “My new investment will supplement my stock business,” says Islam. “It will also improve the living standard of my five-member family.” Islam is not the only one in the area who is excited about the new SFD. “My neighboring farmers are surprised to see the machine’s simultaneous tilling, six-line sowing, fertilization, and laddering functions. Its efficiency and accuracy result in better yields, which have also impressed them. I have already advised my fellow farmers to buy the machine and everyone seems positive.”
Taslima Begum is a house wife in Kandakul village under Faridpur District. She and her husband, a marginal farmer, work hard for the well-being of their three children. Since income from agriculture is not always sufficient to meet their family requirements, she helps her husband in their field to reduce the workload and the cost of hired labor, in addition to her housewife responsibilities.
Prior to joining with CSISA-BD, Taslima and her husband had never seen a reaper. In 2013, project staff organized a one-day training session in her village on wheat production under strip tillage and bed planting.The training featured a wheat reaper as an example of a profit-increasing technology. After her participation in the training, and obtaining additional knowledge about wheat reapers from a short video, Talisma asked CSISA-BD staff to do a demonstration on wheat reaper harvesting each time they visited her 120 decimal field. This request was realized on March 31st, when CSISA-BD CIMMYT personnel organized a demonstration in her field. She was astounded by the results:
Pashchim Shariakhali is a village under Patuakhali Sadar upazila with almost 2,000 resident farm families where agriculture is the only source of livelihood. Five to six years ago, villages there used to cultivate two to three crops in a year and earn a reasonable income from it. Today, most of the villagers cultivate only during aman season due to salinity problems. In the last boro season, Bihango Mohila Sangstha (BMS), NGO partner of CSISA-BD SRSPDS, organized a training event at Pashchim Shariakhali for production of newly developed salt-tolerant rice varieties: Binadhan-8 and BRRI dhan47.
The Koattakha River runs through the small village of Paspota, in the Jessore district, supporting around 50 households along its banks. The general livelihood activities of men in the village are fishing, agricultural day labor, and small-scale business, while women are mainly housewives and occasionally keep livestock.