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Increased Farm Efficiency Bears Fruit in Bangladesh

Abdur Rahman, a farmer in the Jessore District in Bangladesh, has always looked for ways to improve the efficiency of his farm.

He recently attended an event organized by a Feed the Future project where he met representatives of leading farm machinery manufacturers and importers, and quickly saw an opportunity to improve his own farming. He was highly impressed by one particular machine – the power tiller operated seeder (PTOS) – which he could attach to a small tractor to simultaneously till, plant, and fertilize his crops in lines with greater precision and energy efficiency. This was a big change from simply using his tractor to plough fields.

“I can now save over BDT 5,400 (US$70) per season by tilling, seeding, and fertilizing all 1.07 hectares of land with my PTOS machine at the same time,” Rahman said.

After purchasing the machine, he also began increasing his income by tilling, seeding, and fertilizing other farmers’ fields on an affordable fee-for-service basis.

That’s exactly the kind of impact the Feed the Future project that hosted the event is designed to have. Building on the International Maize and Wheat Center’s long history of research in agricultural mechanization, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia, Mechanization and Irrigation (CSISA-MI) project provides operational training on fuel-efficient and climate-smart tools such as axial flow pumps, the PTOS and multi-crop reaper-harvesters. The project also partners with a number of private-sector machinery importers, manufacturers, and dealers, and works to strengthen value chains for machinery sales and rural entrepreneurs.

These efforts are bearing fruit. Since 2013, sales of machines for smallholder agriculture have grown dramatically, with more than 70,000 farmers using machinery on over 30,000 hectares in areas where Feed the Future works in Bangladesh.

 “The government encourages and supports the private sector investment in delivering appropriate machines, according to farmers’ needs and choices,” said Begum Matia Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s Minister of Agriculture.

Local manufacturers have also expressed interest in supporting smallholders.

“We are going to manufacture machines in Bangladesh according to local need, in addition to importing others,” said Subrata Ranjan Das, chief business officer of ACI Motors Ltd., one of the companies partnering with the project. “This investment is crucial to shift our present paradigm to the next, regarding mechanization.”

For farmers like Rahman, that is also an investment in his livelihood as a farmer and in his future.

The USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia, Mechanization and Irrigation (CSISA-MI) is a Feed the Future project led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in partnership with International Development Enterprises. CSISA-MI began in 2013 and focuses on transforming smallholder agriculture in southern Bangladesh by spreading research results on a large scale through agricultural business development and strategic support in value chains. CSISA-MI is a complementary USAID investment supporting the overall CSISA program in South Asia.

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