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FAO in Bangladesh

FAO Programmes

The FAO Country Programming Framework (2014-2018) for Bangladesh is a strategic planning and management document which provides FAO with a sound basis of developing its mid-term country programme, in line with the policies and development priorities of the Government of Bangladesh. It is also a tool to help mobilize resources in a programmatic manner, rather than on a project-by-project basis.  FAO and the Government of Bangladesh developed the initial CPF from documents prepared during 2010, being among the first FAO Member Countries to do so.  This first effort has helped raise over $100 million in technical assistance for Bangladesh over the period 2010-2013. The core goal of Country Programming Framework (CPF) is to identify country level priority areas of work, required technical assistance and investment opportunities; to help coordinate and contribute to the multilateral goals relating to the sustainable agriculture; rural development, food security and nutrition. The identified focused areas reflect and is consistent with the mandate and expertise as a specialized technical UN agency as well as in line with the internationally development goals.

The CPF in Bangladesh (2014-2018) lays out the basis for more integrated and ‘bottom-up’ approach to the FAO programming in Bangladesh. The FAO priority areas in Bangladesh are as follows:

In line with the widely-agreed Country Investment Plan (2010) on agriculture, food security and nutrition, FAO in Bangladesh will focus part of its activities on supporting to policy development on food security and nutrition, building on work done over the past seven years jointly with the Ministry of Food through the strengthening of its Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU). 

As the GoB has a major commitment to the use of social safety nets as a strategy for poverty reduction, FAO may provide technical assistance to further design and evaluation of schemes. It puts lights on the importance of decent rural on- and off-farm employment (DRE). Employment generation  is  an  ever-present  concern  for  an  already  densely-populated  country  with  a  growing population, and limited natural resources or government funds for widespread welfare programmes. Improving nutritional awareness, linked to food availability within the food system. FAO specializes in food-based “nutrition-sensitive” approaches to improving nutrition. By focusing on locally- available foods, programmes can mobilize the economic potential of a particular geographic location, and conserve local biodiversity.

A special focus in this area goes to women as primary carers. FAO will also work with primary and mass education on nutrition and food production. Ensuring women’s participation as a key to tackling food insecurity and under-nutrition is a major part of the priority 1. Improving women’s access to productive resources has been shown to be particularly effective in increasing agricultural production and reducing poverty. Activities will be based on advocacy, knowledge exchange, demonstration and capacity development for greater women’s empowerment and more effective participation in agricultural activities through better access to productive resources (including training, knowledge and assets). The aim is to create capacity within the GoB to design, implement and monitor policies and programmes in food security and nutrition

FAO in Bangladesh will work on availability of food, through its programme of work on sustainable increase in agricultural productivity. Foster national dialogue, and bring together producer and conservation interests to balance the needs to improve livelihoods and to protect the environment and biodiversity of Bangladesh. Strengthen  technical  capacity  within  the  Government of Bangladesh,  and  help  identify  technologies  and  practices  for adoption  by  the  farmers,  adaptation  and  dissemination  through  its  access  to  global  and  regional expertise. Supporting development of capacity for assessment of stocks, as well as providing assistance in devising policies and programmes to discourage unsustainable practices in the fisheries sector has been given significance in the report. FAO can also work directly with fishers to harness better fishing technologies, and can promote the use of capture fisheries in community ponds as a means for supplementary income generation and nutrition.

This priority also emphasize on providing support to scaling up pilot schemes to improve use of surface water for irrigation and reduce pressure on ground water use. Particular emphasis will be placed on finding community-based solutions for creating and maintaining irrigation structures, and for optimising economic crop water use. Community maintenance is crucial as structures such as canals will have to be intermittently re- excavated, and the management of public water bodies needs consensual arrangements through user and management groups. Working with all stakeholders (producers, equipment manufacturers, research, credit institutions and GoB) to promote small scale mechanization in production and up-scaling of agricultural technology, mechanization and quality input supply is necessary to modernize Bangladesh’s agricultural sector.

Marketing of agricultural produce in Bangladesh, as in many other countries, is characterised by seasonally low prices for producers, high rates of post-harvest loss and a complicated system of value chain actors or “middle man”. FAO will engage in policy dialogue focused on creating an enabling environment for  effective  agri- business development and performance in line with the provisions of the National Food Policy Plan of Action including, bringing private sector and government to the same table to discuss potential improvements in the policy framework governing the sector. FAO is committed to help farmers to improve their access to markets on more attractive terms through the development of new forms of farmers’ associations or groups where there is sufficient trust and collective motivation to work together, as well as work with producer organisations, and small and medium sized agribusiness enterprises, and identify technical constraints and/or policy obstacles to sector development.

FAO can play major role in mentoring and training of such individuals where they exist, and linking them to prospective producers, and/or buyers. FAO supports targeted industries (ex. mushroom, vegetable, shrimp, poultry) and institutions for meeting of sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards. Product standardization and certification will improve the quality of produce, reduce the incidence of food-borne diseases (thereby improving health) and potentially increase the volume of exports. It addresses food safety, quality and standards in food chains at risk due to poor handling practices, hygiene shortcomings or adulteration. FAO always extends helping hand with the technical assistance to the Government to improve the public food management system and domestic procurement capacity, as well as to other actors in the value chain to strengthen storage and processing capacity.

The agriculture sector in Bangladesh is in need of improved technologies to increase productivity. But even with the technologies which are already known there are significant yield gaps. Farmers do not achieve the same results as achieved on research stations. Equally, neighbouring farmers applying recommended practices do not all achieve the same good results. FAO will enhance farmer capacities through field schools and programmes of adaptive farmer-centred research. FAO can draw on a wide range of experience in this area to help design effective programmes, in some cases pilot them, and provide quality assurance of programmes which are currently being implemented. FAO provides extension services (of DAE, DLS and DoF) through programmes to improve their effectiveness at individual and institutional level. Another element will be the strengthening of rural communication services, including traditional and modern media techniques, for improving grassroots level exchange and linkages. Targe research will be in programmes to help ensure the relevance of research to farmer’s needs, and to ensure that the NARS institutes are supported with infrastructure and qualified staff.  Partnership is a key element in frontier research. In order to increase yield and resilience of farmers, more investments need to be made in the development of stress-tolerant crop varieties (salt-, drought-, cold-tolerant varieties, and others), quality seed, soil health, pest management, and better agronomic practices, FAO can play a role in building partnerships between Bangladesh and other countries, as well as between stakeholders within Bangladesh itself.

Bangladesh is a country extremely vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, and its agriculture is widely exposed to both sudden- and slow-onset risks (flood, drought, salinity). Climate ‘proofing’ of agriculture is absolutely central to addressing these vulnerabilities, and for ensuring that smallholder farmers and other rural men and women increase their resilience to cope with threats and crises. FAO can help promote a number of technical climate risk mitigation measures. In addition, FAO can contribute to strengthening local response capacity at community level, to ensure that food grain and seed storage arrangements are in place, and that all necessary stakeholders collaborate as needed in a coordinated manner. In view of the high vulnerability of Bangladesh to natural disasters, FAO will also continue to chair, along with WFP, the national Food Security Cluster (FSC), a platform which brings together government, UN, donors and CSOs/NGOs in order to improve preparedness for and response to humanitarian emergencies in the country.

In an effort to ensure the availability of most up-to-date information on food security, FAO will also continue with the consolidation and institutionalization of standard tools for food security analysis to inform policy and programming. Besides the high vulnerability to sudden-onset natural disasters, Bangladesh is also faced with a number of “systemic” threats such infectious animal disease, which affect people’s livelihoods as well as the economic potential of the livestock sector. In this respect, FAO will work with relevant institutions to strengthen coordination, planning and policy support for effective management and control of emerging and re-emerging diseases, and to give higher profile to parasitic infestation.