Good Farm Management Practices, including Fertilizer Deep Placement, in Bangladesh – Improving Nutrition and Gender Equity
The International Fertilizer Development Center has been active in Bangladesh for over 35 years – working with farmers to increase productivity, advocating for enabling policies and introducing good farm management practices and technologies such as fertilizer deep placement (FDP). FDP accomplishes what agriculture must do in a changing climate: lower pollution, increase efficiency, reduce costs and increase yields. Instead of simply broadcasting prilled urea into a rice paddy (the traditional practice), farmers place small fertilizer briquettes into the wet soil between rice plants. Rice yields increase by an average of 20 percent, farmers use one-third less fertilizer, and nutrient losses to air and water drop by half.
Based on this success, IFDC’s focus now extends beyond rice production to fruit, vegetable and maize crops. Vegetable cultivation in Bangladesh heavily features women as producers. In 2013, IFDC partnered with the Walmart Foundation to bring best farm management practices, including FDP technology, to 40,000 Bangladeshi women farmers. The goal is to empower women to grow and market more nutritious, high-value vegetables and fruits. This crop diversification provides variety for primarily rice-based diets, which inherently lack balanced nutrients necessary for human health.
Income increases for women farmers utilizing FDP in vegetable crops have averaged U.S. $202 per farm per season to date. Empowering women not only boosts family income but also promotes ground-level nutrition by increasing the amount of healthy food available for home consumption. The project also is developing a private sector, women-led supply system to ensure an adequate supply of FDP briquettes.
Namita, a project trainee from Jessore Sadar, says “The knowledge I gained from the training on FDP technology and nutrition has allowed me to farm vegetables in a new and effective way. I have transformed into a professional vegetable farmer. Now I can help my husband in his business and contribute to my family’s income.”
Project results are still being collected. It is expected that women empowered through these activities will be positioned for greater involvement in family resource and business decisions, positively impacting family income, nutrition and child health and education.