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110316 FTF - Howlader Story (Frontlines 2010 Sept)

110316 FTF - Howlader Story (Frontlines 2010 Sept)

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Published by Rohit Dheer

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Published by: Rohit Dheer on Aug 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A Greener Green Revolution for Bangladesh

KASHIPUR VILLAGE, BANGLADESH -- Jahangir Howlader remembers it like it was yesterday. In 2007, Cyclone Sidr tore through southernBangladesh’s rice growing area, wiping out his crops and those of his family, neighbors, and friends. His vegetable gardens were washed away, large trees used for timber were scattered, and his house was badly damaged. “After Sidr, when I saw that I did not have any crops left on my land, I thought that I lost my life,” said Howlader. Rice plays a key role in food security and income generation of small-scale farmers in Bangladesh. Paradoxically, however, the devastation caused by the cyclone opened Howlader’s eyes and his mind to a new and more profitable way of rice farming. Howlader was visited by a team of International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)extension agents who were promoting a fertilizer method known as urea deep placement (UDP). USAID, the IFDC, and Bangladeshi farmers are scaling up this technology to smallholder rice farmers as part of President Obama’s new Feed the Future Initiative. The goal is to reach 2 million farmers in five years and increase rice yields by 67 percent. Using this method, farmers place a mini briquette, called a guti, near the roots of the rice plant, rather than spreading urea over the surface of the soil as is done in the conventional method. The guti, which is the size of a mothball, slowly releases nitrogen throughout the growing season. This technology allows for better absorption of the fertilizer, increases the efficiency of fertilizer use, reduces fertilizer runoff, and decreases the release of volatile greenhouse gas. Farmers only need one application of guti briquettes, compared with three applications of conventional fertilizer. Howlader listened and decided to give the UDP method a try. To his surprise, his crop yields increased by 25 percent and at the same time he saved money on expensive fertilizer. Howlader is now spreading the “good news” about guti fertilizer to all his neighbors. He hosted a Field Day promoting guti to farmers and local extension workers. Most farmers in his area are now applying UDP technology on their own fields and cultivating larger yields than ever before. What they may not be aware of is that they are also saving the environment from damaging pollution, the world from greenhouse gases, and, to date, saving the government $1.4 million on fertilizer subsidies.

all as a result of the greater income he has earned from a little product the size of a mothball. Maybe they will remember me and my name for this advice. one of USAID’s beneficiaries from the FTF programs (Photo: USAID/Bangladesh) . His farm now has livestock and a fishpond. but I can give good advice to help raise production of paddy. but I can give good advice to help raise production. Maybe they will remember me and my name for this advice”. said Jahangir Howlader. so they may become socially independent. “I cannot give money to others. This advice will benefit people now and in the future.000 participating farmers. He has become an “agricultural leader” in his communityand is eagerly teaching others. especially women. “I do not have any other job. Using UDP briquettes. fertilizer savings can reach 40 percent. I have one view. leading to as much as $200 in additional profits per hectare. I cannot give money to others. this USAID-supported project has reached over 400. This advice will benefit people now and in the future.” said Howlader. and yields have been found to increase by as much as a ton per hectare. only farming.In two years. What started as a hopeless situation in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr gave Howlader a new meaning in life.

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