PlantwisePlus Blog

The CABI-led PlantwisePlus National Forum held at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Bangladesh has stressed the importance of partnerships to help strengthen the country’s plant health systems.

The event commenced with a warm welcome and opening remarks by Dr Md. Saleh Ahmed, Country Representative of CABI from Bangladesh, who highlighted CABI’s collaboration with partner organizations in the country and emphasized a commitment to expanding its activities there.

In Bangladesh, two-thirds of rural workers are employed in agriculture, playing an essential role in ensuring food security for the country. However, crop pests have a devastating effect on smallholder yields. In Bangladesh, up to 25% of all crops are lost to pests despite farmers using an estimated 49,000 tonnes of pesticides each year.

PlantwisePlus is collaborating with partners to empower farmers to use more sustainable crop management processes. Key projects in Bangladesh include the use of a new biocontrol agent to fight fall armyworm and the further training of agricultural officers to help diagnose and remedy plant health problems.

Strategies for enhancing plant health for sustainable agriculture

Government officials and crop protection experts from the private sector and non-governmental organizations were brought together for the event to discuss strategies for enhancing plant health for sustainable agriculture in the region.

Mr Badal Chandra Biswas, Director General, DAE, was chief guest together with Mr Khairul Alam, Director (Training), DAE, who chaired the inaugural session which was then followed by a technical session chaired by Mr Ashraf Uddin, Director, Plant Protection Wing, DAE.

Dr Surajit Saha Roy, Director, of the Agriculture Information Service, Dr Rezaul Karim, Director, Plant Quarantine Wing, DAE, and KJM Abdul Awal, Director (in-charge), Horticulture Wing, DAE, also attended the forum as honourable guests.

CABI’s scientific research initiatives

As the importance of collaboration for a sustainable plant health system was emphasized, attendees gained valuable insights in to CABI’s scientific research initiatives aimed at solving agricultural problems from Dr Vinod Pandit, CABI’s Regional Director, South Asia.

Last December, for example, CABI and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) came together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under the PlantwisePlus programme to establish Trichogramma rearing facilities to help sustainable tackle pests such as the Brinjal fruit and stem borer.

Furthermore, in late August, a four-day workshop took place at The Department of Plant Pathology, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka, to introduce the range of digital advisory tools available within the PlantwisePlus Toolkit.

More recently, CABI hosted a stakeholder workshop dedicated to ‘Strengthening the System for Pest Preparedness and Management in Bangladesh.’ This sought to validate findings from a national pest management exercise.

It also aimed to develop a roadmap Bangladesh’s pest preparedness and management system through the collaborative commitment of government representatives, researchers, NGOs, and the private sector.

Increased cooperation pledged

During the forum at the DAE, Mr Khairul Alam expressed optimism about CABI’s future contributions and pledged increased cooperation. Mr Badal Chandra Biswas also expressed his gratitude for CABI’s support in navigating the challenges of limited crop land and the demand for various crops in Bangladesh.

He further acknowledged the importance of transitioning from chemical-based cultivation to bio-protection products for sustainable agriculture.

A highlight of the forum was a video presentation by Dr Mahesh H.M, Crop Health Advisor, CABI South Asia. This featured global team leaders from CABI explaining their upcoming activities in Bangladesh. Mr Mohammed Shafiuzzaman, Deputy Director, Horticulture Wing, DAE, was the focal point of CABI from DAE and presented an overview of Bangladesh’s activities in 2023.

Master Trainers trained

It was highlighted that in 2023, under the plant clinic approach, 64 Master Trainers were trained to serve as trainers. The Master Trainers have trained more than 800 Agricultural Extension Officers (AEOs) and 8,000 Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers (SAAOs) to serve as Plant Doctors in Bangladesh.

Plant Doctors help smallholder farmers diagnose their plant health issues before giving them advice on how to remedy them using – where possible – safer-to-use and more environmentally friendly biological control agents as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.

The year 2023 also saw capacity building programmes for the Master Trainers – sharing with them learnings from the CABI Academy including CABI’s range of digital tools and the Introduction to Bioprotection Products online course.

In total, 4,565 SAAOs (4120 Male and 445 female) completed the course and obtained a certificate.

The digital landscape was explored with a presentation from Dr Malvika Chaudhary, CABI’s Global Team Leader – Digital Tool Promotion. Dr Keith Holmes, Global Team Leader of Agro-Input Dealers Training and Certification at CABI, meanwhile, presented the activities related to Agro-Input Dealer training. Dr Pandit provided technical insights on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) related activities.

Dr Pandit said, “The event drew participation from diverse stakeholders of the government, researchers, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The floor was then opened for participants to share their opinions and suggestions.

“In conclusion, the CABI PlantwisePlus National Forum emerged as a vibrant platform for constructive discussion, fostering collaboration, and laying the foundation for a sustainable and resilient plant health system in Bangladesh.”

Additional information

Main image: Attendees of the CABI PlantwisePlus National Forum held at the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh (Credit: CABI).

Blog authors

Homaira Jahan Sonom and Dr Mahesh H. M.

About PlantwisePlus

PlantwisePlus is a global programme, led by CABI, to increase incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.

Working in close partnership with relevant actors, PlantwisePlus strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more.

PlantwisePlusgratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Netherlands; European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (INTPA, EU); the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), United Kingdom; the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Switzerland; the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China (MARA).

Other relevant blogs

‘Strengthening Bangladesh’s pest preparedness and management system.’

‘Empowering tomorrow’s entomologists through CABI Academy.’

‘Digital innovation: integrating PlantwisePlus digital tools in Bangladesh.’

‘Joining forces to boost agricultural research and innovation in Bangladesh.’

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