PKSF established the Agriculture Unit (AU) as its mainstream program in June 2013. Its objective is to extend sustainable agricultural technologies and capacity building support to the doorsteps of farmers with a view to increasing farming productivity and ensuring food security of the country. This Unit enables the farmer to gain access to resources necessary for boosting crop production. Accordingly, the AU has designed its work plan and implementation strategy for the crops sub-sector. An integral part of PKSF, the Unit is working within the purview of the financial and administrative capacity of PKSF as a supplementary and additional service provider of the Government.
- To provide useful, modern and environment-friendly agricultural technologies;
- To establish market linkages of agricultural commodities;
- To develop skilled manpower on farming technology at PKSF, Partner Organizations (POs) and farmer levels; and
- To assist in providing microfinance services considering the seasonality of agricultural activities.
- Introducing high value, high yielding, and climate-resilient crop varieties based on edaphic and climatic factors of locality;
- Conducting cluster-based demonstrations on proven profitable crop technologies;
- Introducing Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) at the field level for better crop production;
- Introducing safe crop cultivation practices (by using bio fertilizers and adopting bio control for pest management etc.);
- Promoting season-wise diversified crop cultivation through introducing suitable cropping patterns;
- Promoting homestead gardening for proper land utilization, ensuring nutritional security of farming community and additional income;
- Enhancing knowledge, skills and awareness of farmers as well as staff of POs through training, exposure visit, motivation etc;
- Conducting field days for effective dissemination of technology-related information and effective crop production techniques; and
- Operating ‘Agriculture Counselling Centre’ for instant solution of field-level crop-related problems faced by farmers.
The Agriculture Unit of PKSF has already completed the 6th year of its operations successfully. For the fiscal year 2019-20, PKSF allocated BDT 6.15 crore for the AU activities being implemented through 31 POs at 55 upazilas of 25 district covering 25 Agro-ecological Zones (AEZs) of Bangladesh.
The AU demonstrated at the field level a number of high value, high yielding and specialised nutrient or vitamin-enriched crop varieties including aromatic rice, nutrient-fortified rice, cherry tomato, capsicum, brinjal, coriander, marigold, sunflower, gladiolus, chrysanthemum, snowball, broccoli, pulse crop and short duration mustard. These demonstrations increased land productivity, cropping intensity, crop diversification and in contrary decreased disease suppression as farmers follow suitable crop rotation. AU is also expanding climate smart agriculture through floriculture, spices, fruits, oil seeds cultivation at different Agro Ecological Zones (AEZs) of Bangladesh. Water reservoir based crop cultivation in saline prone area-Satkhira, Sorjan technology of cultivating crop and fish intensively in Noakhali region and expansion of different climate-resilient crop varieties is now being popularised. PKSF started to popularise the summer watermelon (non-seasonal high value crop) initially in Chuadanga and later it was extended to 24 districts (predominantly in Northwestern and Southwestern regions). Vegetable cultivation on the field borders for proper utilisation of land and expansion of ‘Bagging Technology’ for safe fruits and vegetables production are other dimensions of its activities. Besides, Results-Based Monitoring (RBM) has been conducted to evaluate the activities of the Unit. It’s a great success of this Unit that a good number of expanded technologies — including summer watermelon, summer tomato, climate-resilient crop varieties, quality rice seed production technology — are being replicated by farmers at the field level.
The AU also implemented ‘Alternative Crop Production and Generating Multiple IGAs Instead of Tobacco’ in predominantly tobacco growing areas — Kushtia, Lalmonirhat, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar. In FY 2019-20, some 1,100 farmers spared 528 acres of tobacco land for food crop production. They are also involved in rearing beef cattle, commercial poultry, Black Bengal goat and turkey for additional income. Preliminary results are encouraging as the targeted farmers have started to reap the benefits (financial, health, environmental and educational of the households) of food crop production instead of cultivation tobacco. To disseminate the latest knowledge and technical services among farmers, the Unit provides various kinds of services by linking them with different research, educational, and extension organisations.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) organized a workshop titled ‘BARI-BRRI-DAE-PKSF MoU Review’ on 26 October 2019. Agriculture Secretary Mr Md Nasiruzzaman, PKSF Managing Director Mr Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, BARI Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General (Routine Charge) Chandi Das Kundu of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), and Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir, Director General of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) were present in the workshop. Representatives from BARI, BRRI, DAE and PKSF gave presentations on the activities of their respective agencies.
A workshop titled ‘Mushroom Production in Bangladesh: Properties and Potentials’ was organized at PKSF Bhaban on 14 January 2020. The keynote presentation on ‘the importance of mushroom for human health’ was delivered by Dr Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division, Government of Bangladesh.
Glimpses of Expanding Technology
Up to June 2020, a total of 24,141 demonstrations have been established on different agricultural technologies. These demonstrations include summer watermelon production, summer tomato production, vegetable seedling production on plastic tray using coco-dust, natural vegetable/potato storage, fruit bagging technology, safe crop production by following ICM and GAP etc. Besides, 1,114 field days have been arranged to disseminate the positive results of demonstrated technologies among a large number of farmers. The AU has also provided 687 USG applicators to fertilize rice fields, 93,691 pheromone lures to farmers for use on 2,500 acres of land for safe food production, 27,076 perching sticks for rice fields as part of IPM, 1,33,402 fruit bags for safe fruit production, and vegetable seeds to 4,717 households for homestead gardening. For learning and sharing the best practices of crop cultivation, five exposure visits have been arranged. About 224 Upazila Planning Meetings were arranged under the Unit. Also, the AU organized 2,265 meetings of ‘Krishi Poramorsho Kendra’ (meaning, agricultural consultation centre), where farmers get direct access to upazila level agriculture, livestock and fisheries extension officers of the government.
Capacity Building and Training
For effective expansion of new technologies, a total of 34,200 members received training on ‘Crop production’. These training programs were conducted with the help of central and local-level resource persons from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) etc. About 285 members received training on specialized farming activities at the Rural Development Academy (RDA) in Bogura and PO training centres in various districts. The AU also provided training to 712 agriculture officers of POs on different improved technologies at RDA and BARI. In FY 2019-20, a total of 3,425 members at the grassroots in 137 batches took training on ‘crop production’ in line with the implemented technologies. Due to COVID-19, some training courses were not conducted as previously planned because of health concerns.
Climate-resilient crop cultivation in salinity-prone areas
Quality Seedlings Production using Coco-dust on Plastic Trays
Non-Seasonal Watermelon Production
Food crops being produced in what formerly was tobacco farmland