Food and Seed Sovereignty and Community Prosperity: Food Sovereignty for Marginal Farmers

The project activities were implemented in three districts of Tangail, Pabna and Cox’sbazar. These districts represent major agro ecological zones including flood plain, dry & drought prone and coastal regions of Bangladesh. Biodiversity based ecological agriculture was spread among the farming communities through offering learning sessions to farmers and other stakeholders. Genetic resources were managed through collection, regeneration and conservation. Advocacy & networking among development organizations, local government institutions, government officials and sharing experiences among farmers of different regions were implemented through participatory approach.

Activities for expansion of biodiversity based ecological agriculture were carried out in the villages in the three regions of Bangladesh. The concept and practice of biodiversity based ecological agriculture (Nayakrishi) through different forms of meetings and training programmes. These are

  1. Introductory Meetings
  2. General Learning Session (GLS) - training of farmers known as general learning sessions
  3. Advance Learning Session (ALS) – intensiover learning
  4. Collection, and preservation of seeds and genetic resources
  5. Farmers exchange for Knowledge sharing
  6. Nayakrishi Seed Network Meeting
  7. Biodiversity Network Member Meeting

Discussions in the Introductory Meetings cover:

  1. Aims and objectives of the organization
  2. Difference between chemical Agriculture and Ecological Agriculture
  3. Importance of seed highlighting collection, regeneration and maintenance.
  4. Adverse impacts of pesticides and other agro-chemicals
  5. Pest management
  6. Utility of organic manure and compost

General Learning Session (GLS)

General Learning Session is the first step in the process of initiating ecological agriculture at the village level. The principles of ecological agriculture are discussed in this learning session. These principles are articulated to bring paradigm shift from the present system of chemical agriculture.

Interactive discussions on ecological agriculture are held with people of different professions at the time of base line survey after village selection. A preliminary perception is created after discussion. People of different professions and age participate in the introductory meeting. Interactive discussions are held on different aspects. The major issues emerging out of the discussions include:

  •  Who are the people interested to become members of the farming community based on ecological agriculture (Nayakrishi)
  • Who are willing to participate in the training course for ecological agriculture?
  • Existing methods of seed preservation at farmers level
  • Existing methods of agricultural production
  • Special area of interest for learning
  • Type of participation in the discussion
  • Interest for learning

Topics for discussion in the General learning session:

Biodiversity-based ecological agriculture (Nayakrishi) and ten principles of ecological agriculture.

  1. Adverse impacts of chemical fertilizer and pesticides
  2. Pest management, mixed cropping and intercropping
  3. Seed management, collection, conservation and regeneration of seeds of indigenous varieties
  4. Soil management
  5. Maintenance and management of uncultivated vegetables and medicinal plants
  6. Rearing and maintenance of indigenous breeds of cow, goat and poultry
  7. Adverse impacts of tobacco production
  8. Process of compost making
  9. Crop calendar of the locality, future planning for crop production

The farmers covered by General Learning Sessions are committed to:

  • Maintenance of seed in own hand
  • Stop the use of pesticides
  • Maintain soil health through management
  • Conserve bio-diversity and nature

Impacts of General Learning Session:

  1. The trained farmers have stopped the use of pesticides. In addition they have started the use of seeds of the local varieties.
  2. In this short span of time, 38 out of 64 farmers in Pabna region have made compost and used those for vegetable production in the homestead areas. Some other farmers have collected the raw materials for making compost.
  3. The farmers have learnt the art of selecting seeds for specific seasons. The use of fallow land in the homestead areas has intensified.
  4. The intensity of the use of uncultivated vegetable has increased in those families where the women members have participated in the training. The use of bathua sak, dheki sak, kurma, katamarish, thankuni and ghagra has increased.
  5. The use of underground water for irrigation has reduced. On the other hand, the use of surface water for irrigation has increased.
  6. The cultivation of mixed cropping has increased.

Advance Learning Session (ALS) for Farmers:

The Advance Learning Sessions are organized for those farmers who are experienced, have leadership capability and are interested to learn more. The main topics for discussion in the ALS:

  1. Aspects of mixed cropping and intercropping
  2. Adverse impacts of pesticides and alternative approach of pest management
  3. Soil management
  4. Food and Nutrition, food selection based on nutrition
  5. Indigenous seeds and biodiversity
  6. Identification of medicinal herbs, attributes of uncultivated vegetables
  7. Preparation of compost and green manure
  8. Cost and return from ecological agriculture
  9. Crop calendar
  10. Future planning.

Impacts of ALS

  1. The farmers attending the ALS have stopped the use of pesticides.
  2. The farmers have started practicing ecological agriculture. They have shared their knowledge with other farmers in the village. Many other farmers have expressed their interest to attend learning sessions for practicing ecological agriculture.
  3. The farmers have expressed their commitment to make best use of fallow land. They will grow seasonal vegetables in the unused lands. They will grow tall growing plants in less fertile lands.

Meeting with the Seed Network Members (NSN)
The main topics discussed in the meeting include:

  1. Two – three times of flash floods and the consequent affects on life and livelihood
  2. Formation of Seed Expert committee
  3. Importance of Seed expert Committee and the art of seed preservation
  4. Changing agricultural practices matching climatic variations
  5. Follow up activities for seed bed establishment for boro rice production
  6. Seed collection and conservation in the Seed Akhra
  7. Crops condition in the field and selection of crops according to seasons
  8. Investigation of threatened seeds, collection and conservation of those requiring urgent attention.
  9. Planning for cultivation of winter vegetables
  10. Household problems of the members of the NSN and measures to solve those problems

The activities of the Seed Committee were intensified due to reconstitution of the committee. The members have been attending the meeting regularly. Seed collection and preservation activities were intensified.

  • The farmers discussed and decided the plan for vegetable production in the next rabi season
  • The seed of pajam, rohingi chikon, ajgirin and upchinal varieties of amon rice were re-introduced for cultivation and maintenance
  • The members of the NSN discussed the situation emerging due to the flash flood. Decision was taken to delay the transplanting of amon paddy for 20/25 days.
  • The farmers have collected seeds of flax and safflower for cultivation and maintenance.
  • The farmers in Adajan village in Tangail district collected the seeds of two threatened varieties of aus rice, namely kalabakri and vaturi for cultivation and maintenance.

The efforts for conservation of the seeds of indigenous varieties of crops have been intensified with the earnest interest of the members of NSN.

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