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Getting the message across: Promoting ecological agriculture in Bangladesh

Dipankar Datta and Kamal Kar

Report/paper, 24 pages

Amid mounting concern over increasing reliance on high-yielding varieties, chemical fertilisers and pesticides among Bangladesh’s smallholder farmers, many NGOs have been training farmers in more sustainable farming methods. Despite this, the numbers of farmers adopting ecological agriculture have not been great. In this paper we explore why this is so, drawing on action research we conducted in 16 Bangladeshi villages. We found that although many trained farmers realise the importance of ecological agriculture, they are not always able to put the training into practice, especially on their major farming land which provides them with most of their livelihood security. However, farmers have adopted this approach more on their homestead land, which is less controlled by market forces and is free from other external factors. This perhaps reflects farmers’ belief in the need for such an approach.A key roadblock to the wider adoption of ecological agriculture was the lack of organic fertilisers. Two suggestions to overcome this are to (1) establish commercial units to produce organic fertilisers and (2) promote crop diversification to improve the nutritional status of the soil, as well as improve food security and nutrition for their families. Other steps could include increasing the use of participatory and farmer-led approaches for introducing ecological agriculture; improving coordination among NGOs for more coherent training and joint marketing activities; widening target groups and increasing evidence-based advocacy for ecological agriculture at the policy level

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