Pilot project on commercialisation of smallholders' CA-based planters in Bangladesh

Crop production in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly unattractive as a business proposition due to high production costs and its dependence on many labour-intensive manual operations. Widespread use of two-wheel tractors (2WT) for land preparation and the recent development of small farm machineries provide a platform for implementing farm mechanisation and the practice of conservation agriculture (CA) in Bangladesh. The use of the Versatile Multi-crop Planter (VMP) that was developed in a previous ACIAR project (LWR-2010-080) improves the efficiency of resource use (irrigation water, labour, fuel, seed, fertilisers) that in turn increases the profitability of crop cultivation for farmers and service providers.

A new ACIAR project, the ‘Pilot Project on Commercialisation of Smallholders' CA-based Planters in Bangladesh’, commenced last month, and will link a medium scale manufacturer, a Bank, farmers organization, and small entrepreneurs (local service providers) as partners to promote small-scale mechanisation of planting operations using CA practices.

The project’s aim is to enable the business of mechanised planting and create demand for the VMP to reach a scale where no further specific public funding is needed to ensure that the services continue to be delivered and grow. This project will identify policy level bottlenecks and barriers to the adoption of CA and mechanised planting, and pilot test two commercialisation models for scale out of the VMP. The project partners include the Hoque Corporation (HC), National Bank Ltd (NBL), Conservation Agriculture Service Providers' Association (CASPA), Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), and Murdoch University, who are working together to implement the project that intends to sell at least 100 units of the VMP. The project will also conduct a desktop scoping study of the medium-term opportunities for a four-wheel tractor CA planting machine, and develop a prototype of this VMP.

A day-long Inception Workshop of the project was held on 12th September at the Regional Wheat and Maize Research Institute, Rajshahi, Bangladesh. The aim of the Inception Workshop was to share the project activities among the concerned stakeholders; review the project objectives, activities and outcomes; and finalise the implementation plan of the project. A total of 63 participants including Senior Officials from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) (including Additional Director, Deputy Director and Upazila Agriculture Officer), HC, CASPA, NBL, BAU, Rural Development Academy - Bogra, Chittagong Builders, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Local Service Providers and farmers attended in the workshop.

The meeting was widely covered in the Bangladeshi press, highlighting the contributions mechanisation can make towards solving agricultural challenges (see here).

For more information, please contact Professor Richard Bell R.Bell@murdoch.edu.au.

The project Inception Workshop participants visiting the Versatile Multi-crop Planters.  Photo: Dr. Md. Enamul Haque.

The project Inception Workshop participants visiting the Versatile Multi-crop Planters.

Photo: Dr. Md. Enamul Haque.

NewsRichard Bell