GCP/BGD/025/BEL - GCP/BGD/028/DEN [GCP Projects list]
|Donors||Government of Belgium and Government of Denmark|
These projects, complementary to each other, are being supported by trust funds of the Belgium and the Danish Governments and cover the most common vegetable crops grown in Bangladesh (bottle gourd, bitter gourd, beans, peas, okra, onion, amaranth, tomato, Chinese radish, among others) with the objective of promoting the development of the private seed industry, strengthen BARI and BADC basic/foundation seed production activities, stimulate the participation of NGOs and farmers' groups to develop efficient market-oriented vegetable production, and train national staff, seed farmers and entrepreneurs on modern seed technology.
The long term objectives of these projects are to expand the production of high quality vegetable seed to cover at least 25% of the national area under improved seeds, and, as a final achievement, to contribute to benefit the nutrition and health of the Bengali population. About 75% of the population diet is deficient in protein and 80-90% of the people suffer from deficiency of vitamin and micro-nutrients. Due to Vitamin A deficiency about 30,000 children go blind every year. The nutritional implications are worse in pregnant and women feeding babies. The problem is not only for the availability of nutritive foods at affordable prices but it is more severe for the accessibility to food as 60% population in Bangladesh is living below poverty line. With a view to improve income and nutrition of the people, the Government of Bangladesh included in its plans the objective to increase the production and consumption of vegetables.
Activities in Improving Seed Security
As quality seed is the key factor to increase the yield of vegetable production, the Government of Bangladesh requested FAO to provide assistance to strengthen their National Vegetable Seed Programme. FAO with the financial assistance from DANIDA (Danish Government) started activities in 1986 under the project "Strengthening of the National Vegetable Seed Programme". In the first three years the project identified constraints and trained manpower to overcome the constraints. Seed production on a small scale was taken up on the Government farms. In the Second phase which lasted three years 1990-1993 through a joint funding with Belgium Government and DANIDA, upstream activity such as identifying suitable varieties, breeder and foundation seed production and transfer of technology Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) in addition to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) was included in the project support. The project created required physical facilities and trained manpower in these institutions. The private sector, which supplies seeds, and the farmers were involved mainly to create awareness of quality seed.
Private Sector Participation in Seed Security
In 1993, when a new national seed policy as part of the free market policy of the Government was declared, the project started involving the private sector into a quality seed production programme. As the seed supplied by the private sector was of poor quality, the projects motivated the sector to undertake quality assured seed production through "contract farmers". Support to this undertaking promptly came also from the public sector (BADC and BARI).
To increase the demand of quality assured seed, massive field demonstrations in small private farms were organized country-wide and, through them, modern methods of vegetable cultivation were also shown.
These efforts generated a market for quality seed. Within four years (1992-96) the private sector production and marketing of quality seed increased from nil to 100 tonnes which is about 10% of the whole private seed production. This programme is increasing fast utilizing the linkages established by the project. It is foreseen that in the next four to five years at least 1500 tonnes of quality vegetable seed equivalent to 50% of the total seed production in the country, will be made available by the private sector.
The increase in the yield of vegetable from the use of good quality seed can be estimated in three tonnes per hectare. Per capita availability of vegetables from the same area may increase by 50% over the present consumption level. In addition, these activities are generating employment in the rural areas both for seed production as well as vegetable growing, harvesting, packaging and handling. Based on the results achieved, even foreign companies have started considering attractive the potential for vegetable seed production in Bangladesh. Recently, one multinational seed company started its activities in vegetable seed research and production for export. Cost effective ample human resources available in the rural areas thus would be gainfully employed through this high labour intensive activity.
For further information please contact Mr. C.H. Rosell, Senior Officer, AGPS.