ICT is the effective tool in climate-smart agriculture to gain fruitful access of ultra poor farmers in local language opposes to print media
Bangladesh is a small country which is vulnerable to different types of environmental disasters. The major disasters and environmental vulnerabilities are floods, water stagnancy, droughts, cyclone, tidal surge, river erosion, salinity, extreme temperature and low light intensity etc. The vulnerabilities due to climate change are likely to aggravate more in the future. These catastrophic events significantly hinder the agriculture production systems, economic and social development of the country firstly through damaging the crops, livestock, fisheries and agroforestry, natural resources, establishments and infrastructures and secondly pulling back the on-going developments, business and trade at local, regional and even global levels. Coastal areas are mostly inhabited by the poor and disadvantaged groups. Usually, the coastal belt is flooded from May to December. Salinity also restricts agriculture in the coastal areas. In coastal zone crops are lost due to water stagnancy or tidal surge during July-December in wet seasons. On the other hand, during winter salinity is the major threat to agriculture. During the summer season, due to lack of irrigation availability farmers can not produce crops in their lands. The aim of the project is to ensure food security of ultra poor climate vulnerable farmers promoting climate-smart agricultural system using ICT in the coastal belt. Poor farmers will gain fruitful access to ICTs through shared facilities in their own languages which oppose to print or electronic media. The project would be implemented in the saline prone areas establishing climate smart agricultural information & investment Centre; developing and regular updating customized software; disseminating seasonal agro-meteorological, soil and hydrological information relating to crop suitability using cellular phone and mobile internet; educating farmers on ICT and climate resilient agricultural system, soil health, and also about flood & saline tolerant varieties.
What actions do you propose?
There will be a project leader who is climate change, agriculture and ICT as well as model development expert. He will develop the guideline, data collection tools, model development tool, data analysis, testing. message development and releasing.
On the other hand, I will also hire a Model development expert who will work for software development, testing and releasing.
There will be two field researcher who will collect data and analyze. There will be two KTK manager or operator who will operate KTK and deliver message towards farmers.
Development of customized software
In most of the cases, technology can not reach the end user or if any then it is modified. As a result, there are yield gaps between the research and farmers field. To address this limitation customized software will be developed on the information or data relevant to soil health restoration or conservation, soil quality management, suitable crops or plants, local agro-meteorological, soil and hydrological information and climate resilient cropping pattern, climate resilient crop varieties, location-specific best management practices to increase crop yield, irrigation scheduling, quality seed source, and livelihood. It is expected that the software will be capable to provide fertilizer recommendation based on existing soil nutrient data or soil test value for crops of the area. It will also capable to estimate location-specific carrying capacity relevant to food production, agricultural inputs needs, food requirement and surplus/deficient of food to ensure food security. It is a tangible outcome of the project. The software would be developed by a software development expert like Decision Support System for Agro-technology (DSSAT) model expert. Centre for Environmental and Geographic information Services (CEGIS) has already developed a software namely Soil, Land and Agricultural Information System (SOLARIS), Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) has developed another software Fertilizer Recommendation Software (FRS). Under this project, we will validate these software's by the active participation of CEGIS and SRDI software expert along with project team expert on software. A software namely System on Agro-technology, Climate, Agriculture and Water (SACAW) Model would be developed under this project. It would be a dynamic model which will contain crop land specific climatic information, land elevation, land use, hydro-meteorological information, agro-meteorological information, soil health, soil fertility, pest, and diseases etc. The software will analyze all of inbuilt information provided generated by field researchers from farmers land regularly. It would be updated regularly based on the seasonal crop-related information. A software and agriculture expert will transmit this information into voice and text message and they will deliver these messages to the KTK as well as Agriculture Information Centre hub.
Establishment of ‘Krishi Totthya Kendra’ (KTK)
A ‘Krishi Totthya Kendra‘ (Agriculture Information Centre) will be formed. This service provider will be connected with the Union Agricultural Committee, ‘Krishi Samabay Samity’ (KSS) or Agriculture Co-operative Society and other GO/NGOs working in the union. The partners have a deep rooted relation with the peoples of the area and can able to popularize the KTK within the community. The KTK would be established with necessary input support like ICT materials (Laptops, printers, internet facilities etc.). A learned KTK operator would be deployed. The KTK will sustain by itself providing service to the farmers through it.
Linking KTK and SACAW Model with farmers
The KTK would be linked to the local mobile operator to launch the system. The focus of all activities is to upscale the target group on the soil health, soil management, balanced use of fertilizer, identification of quality fertilizers and seeds, rational use of water resources, suitable crop selection, capacity building and awareness raising of farmers. KTK will receive related information from customized software as viable voice and text message. It will deliver a message to the member farmer’s regular basis. On the other hand, farmers will receive a message from KTK through a phone call or text message whatever they need. The KTK manager or operator will deliver a message in each day in relating to crop and climate specific information towards the target farmers.
Capacity building of farmers
Sufficient and appropriate support to scale up the skill of the target group of farmers on climate resilient cropping pattern and crop production farmers skill development training would be provided. It will be exposed the use of saline and flood-tolerant varieties, seasonal crop calendar modification, site-specific crop suitability, hydro-meteorology, agro-climatology, reciprocal relationship between farmers and KTK operators, cell phone operating, calling and text messaging to KTK operators etc.
Capacity building of KTK operators
A training would be organized for KTK operators who would be involved with operating KTK, receiving messages from customized software as well as experts and delivering towards targeted farmers how to receive and deliver crop land specific information.
Awareness raising among target farmers and other stakeholders
During project period strong and effective advocacy and demonstration on the soil degradation and remedial measures, technology to adopt diversified crops will be done.
Who will take these actions?
- Small and marginal farmers who are most vulnerable due to climate change are the direct key actor of the intervention.
- Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Department of Livestock (DLS) of the respective intervention area will actively engage to necessary information and data.
- Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and Climate Change Cell under Department of Environment (DAE) of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) will provide up to date agro-meteorological information.
- Agriculture Information Centre (AIC) under Ministry of Agriculture will provide technical support to set up Agriculture Information Centre (Krishi Tottya Kendra) in the respective area.
- Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC), Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) will provide up to date information and input support for climate resilient seed.
Farmers are the ultimate beneficiary groups. On the other hand, the rest of the actors are involved in information generation, dissemination and educating farmers from top to bottom level. The project leader will develop a strong coordination mechanism with these relevant key actors. SRDI, DAE, DLS, BMD, BADC, BARC, BRRI will cooperate the project providing relevant field information from their field office. AIC is a government information dissemination organization under Ministry of Agriculture residing in Upazila level agriculture extension office. The AIC professional will cooperate Union Information Centre to operate the center and disseminate information towards farmers. A project management committee would be formed adopting members from the key actors to run the project smoothly and properly. The committee will sit together in each month to update the field operation and implementation, developing guideline and mode of operation etc.
We have already had a strong research and implementation cooperation with these agencies.
Where will these actions be taken?
The actions would be undertaken in the most climate vulnerable region of Bangladesh, the least developed country (south-west) coastal district in where agriculture is almost restricted due to sea level rising, salinity intrusion in soil and water, regular tidal surge, cyclone with storm surges, water logging etc.
What are other key benefits?
- Training, climate change education, and information small-scale farmers could realize the impact of changes in agricultural technologies and management practices which could reduce emissions by retaining carbon.
- Crop rotations education to promote seasonal climate resilient agriculture through practicing crop rotation in the agricultural land will increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil.
- Climate resilient tillage farming that leave residues and reduce tillage, especially deep tillage, encourage the build-up of soil carbon.
- The practice of changing land use in agricultural land from annual crops to perennial crops, pasture, and agroforestry will increase above and below-ground carbon stocks.
- Changes in crop genetics, management of irrigation, fertilizer use, soils will reduce both nitrous oxide and methane emissions.
- Changes in saline tolerant forage production and livestock species, improved feeding practices and biogas, bio fertilizer utilization will also cut GHG emissions.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The project cost is 14500 USD in where Centre establishment cost is 3000 USD (two KTK, as well as information center, would be established in the project location which will include office rent, logistic support, furniture etc.); ICT instruments and center management-operation cost is 2000 USD (It includes computers, printers, internet facility charge, KTK manager/operator salary); Farmers training and group management cost is 1500 USD (In the project area four farmers group would be formed containing members of 25, each group would be trained for 3 days residential mode. In each month, two group management and contingency planning meeting would be organized for the groups); software developing, testing, and releasing cost is 2000 USD (Expert honorarium); information collection, analysis and message preparation cost is 2000 USD (primary and secondary information collection cost, primary information would be collected recruiting field enumerators, secondary information would be bought from relevant agencies including SRDI, BMD etc.); travel, coordination meeting cost is 2000 USD (In each month, a coordination meeting would be organized with project management committee) and honorarium for researcher is 2000 USD.
The loss in agricultural production due to climatic variability has been a serious problem for Bangladesh. Limited knowledge, lack of appropriate planning and technologies, this sector is suffering most. It is realized that climate change cannot be solved immediately; exploring mitigation and adaptation options through information dissemination and capacity building of farmers can be made to reduce loss and damage in agriculture sectors. In this point of view, the intervention is planned for two years. In the first 6 months (inception phase) the intervention will be planned and designed in consultation with different stakeholders. The second (implementation phase) 15 months Climate-smart Information Centre establishment, data collection, data accumulation, capacity building of target farmers will be carried out. The remaining 3 months of the project period will be judgment phase. In this phase, impact assessment and evaluation of the planned activities would be carried out and the final report would be submitted to the donor.
In the short term period (5-15 years), the KTK operator/manager will operate the information center for five years period by selling information beyond the project period with the minimum cost. After this period, if the project interventions become successful, I will propose government agencies who are involved with climate-smart agriculture to adopt this intervention. Like other intervention, the government will adopt this intervention for a period and it will be a mid-term period. After this mid-term implementation by the support of government and international development partner, farmers will become more capable to run such type of intervention/entrepreneurship by their own initiative and it will continue years to years.
The following proposals are linked with the proposed proposal:
- A tool bringing together data from all accessible sources to support large and small initiatives for climate change amelioration.https://www.climatecolab.org:18081/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1301411/planId/1318804
Collabotarive Local Actions for Climatechange Education - CLACE.https://www.climatecolab.org:18081/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1301411/planId/1318804
- Rahaman, M.A; Aslam S. M. Ali, Rahman, M. M (2015). Promoting Climate Smart Agriculture along the Coastal Belt of Bangladesh Using ICT. Paper accepted for the International Scientific Conference (Our Common Future under Climate Change) will be held at UNESCO, Paris (France), 7-10 July 2015.
- Grunfeld, H., & Houghton, J. (2013). Using ICT for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation through Agro-ecology in the Developing World. on Information and Communication Technologies, 128.http://e-collection.library.ethz.ch/eserv/eth:6558/eth-6558-01.pdf#page=134
- Bowonder, B., Gupta, V., & Singh, A. (2003). Developing a rural market e-hub: The case study of e-Choupal experience of ITC. Planning Commission of India.http://planningcommission.gov.in/reports/sereport/ser/stdy_ict/4_e-choupal%20.pdf
- Duncombe, R., & Heeks, R. (2001). Information and Communication Technologies and Small Enterprise in Africa. Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.http://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/IDPM/is/ictsme/full_versions/appendix1.doc