Global Soil Partnership

Soils for Nutrition project: progress in 3 pilot sites in Bangladesh

GCP/GLO/730/GER: Sustainable soil management for nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia

Baliadangi, Chandina, Chuadanga

09/02/2021

As part of the Soils for Nutrition project, the FAO Global Soil Partnership promotes sustainable soil management practices to improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods to address micronutrient deficiencies in local populations.

The project, launched in 2019 and funded by the German government, is taking place in two Sub-Saharan African countries (Malawi, Burkina Faso) and one country in South East Asia (Bangladesh). The aim of the project is to improve nutrition across the soil, crops and the human continuum in order to combat "hidden hunger", a condition defined by micronutrient deficiency despite an adequate daily calorie intake. Indeed, a person consuming enough food can face a deficiency if the food consumed does not contain enough vitamins and minerals for growth and development. Thus, chronic micronutrient deficiency can have dramatic consequences, such as lower energy levels, reduced immune function, reduced work productivity and overall capacity. As part of the Soils for Nutrition project, the FAO Global Soil Partnership promotes sustainable soil management practices to improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods to address micronutrient deficiencies in local populations. 

In Bangladesh, the project is advancing remarkably well over three pilot sites: Baliadangi (north-west), Chandina (east) and Chuadanga (west). 

In order to address the problem of micronutrient deficiency, which particularly affects vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women, a variety of Aman transplanted rice fortified with more zinc and iron has been selected in Bangladesh as a planting material to enrich the micronutrient status of the staple diet of these communities. In parallel with the selection of the fortified rice variety, in rotation with vegetables (cauliflower, potato) and pulses (Mungbean) field demonstrations by selected farmers were carried out at each site to demonstrate sustainable soil management practices and the sustainable use and management of fertilisers to achieve better nutrient content in soil, food and people.  

Throughout the initiative, soil samples and field data were taken and analysed to assess the progress of the project, compare the different practices and thus identify their impact on increasing micronutrient levels in the soil and crops. More than 200 farmers are currently part of the initiative and each site will be interviewed to find out the baseline scenario of the selected sites and to obtain more data from the different sites. Upcoming results, in particular any changes in the micronutrient content of crops, combined with the food consumption patterns of farmers and the local community, will be used to infer possible health effects on local populations and to respond effectively to micronutrient deficiencies.

Presentations

Related links:

Sustainable soil management for nutrition-sensitive agriculture | Soil fertility | Progress

Bangladesh: Photogallery | Interviews | Project webpage