Improved Soil Fertility Management: Essential to Sustainable Production Systems
In Bangladesh, rural incomes and food security depend on the productive capacity of the soil to support sustainable yield increases. Based upon current cropping patterns and cropping intensity, it is estimated that more than 2 million mt of nutrients are being removed from Bangladesh's soils annually. An estimated 1.8 million ha of land are already severely deficient of the nutrient phosphorus; some 0.4 million ha are severely deficient in potassium. Most farmers emphasize the use of nitrogenous fertilizers, resulting in a serious imbalance in nutrient management. The inefficient use of fertilizers is a primary cause of the declining soil nutrient status. Moreover, the practice of surface applying urea fertilizer contributes to applied nitrogen losses estimated at 65 percent.
Fertilizer Deep-Placement Technology
The AAPI project supports the Ministry of Agriculture to accelerate diffusion of fertilizer deep placement technology. FDP technology is extremely well suited for rice production; use in other crops is promising. It involves point placement of a large size (1.8 to 3.4 grams) fertilizer particle near the root zone of the plant. Proper use of FDP technology has been demonstrated to increase paddy yields by up to 25 percent with one third less use of nitrogen fertilizer. Farmers may (on average) realize an increase of 800 kg per hectare from the use of FDP technology; in economic terms, that is more than 15,000 taka in incremental net revenue per hectare due to increased yield of paddy and less use of urea.
Nitrogen is the most mobile of the applied fertilizers, meaning that nutrient loss can be quite high. FDP technology reduces "losses" of applied fertilizer nitrogen by up to 50 percent when compared to conventional surface applied urea fertilizer. It improves resource use efficiency. AAPI will also support on a pilot-basis, the water use management technology, AWD.
Technology Diffusion and Support System Development
The AAPI project will facilitate rapid diffusion of FDP technology. Both demand- and supply-related issues will be addressed. Increased farmer demand will be achieved by improving awareness of the FDP technology, increasing knowledge of appropriate use practices and the resulting potential economic benefits, and increasing access to a timely supply of high-quality FDP products at a reasonable price. Improvement of the supply system for FDP products will entail policy analyses to support reforms to allow expanded private sector participation in the fertilizer sector, improving awareness of the potential of micro-enterprises in FDP product supply and cost-sharing in micro-enterprise investment in FDP product briquette machines. The project will support public-private sector relationships through building the capacity of Bangladesh Fertilizer Association (BFA) and strengthening the public sector (e.g., BADC, BARC, DAE, SRDI) that play various key roles in improving soil fertility management and technology introduction.
AAPI activities are designed to achieve results in improving farmer demand for FDP technology, improving access to supply of FDP products, supporting balanced fertilizer use, and development of capacity to achieve sustainability in market development and soil fertility management improvement. Examples of AAPI activities (over the life of the project) to achieve wide-spread adoption of FDP technology include the following:
o 6,000 technology demonstrations; o 500 field days;
o 20,000 farmer training programs; o 240 DAE staff training programs;
o DAE training Institute (13) enhanced; o 250 motivational visits;
o 125 training programs for entrepreneurs; o 25 policy dialogues;
o Target area-wide advertising and promotion campaign: radio, television, billboards, signboards, point of purchase displays, technical leaflets, open sky shows, and promotional materials.
AAPI will be implemented in 124 Upazilas of 22 districts. The districts are Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalokati, Patuakhali, Barguna, Bagerhat, Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Bhola, Khulna, Satkhira, Chuadanga, Narail, Jessore, Jhenaidah, Magura, Meherpur, Rajbari, Faridpur plus Mymensingh and Sherpur.
Collaboration and Leveraging of Resources
APPI is a collaborative effort, involving a range of stakeholders. The DAE in particular will play a significant role in farmer education. BCIC, BRRI, BARC and BADC and private sector organizations, donor assisted projects and NGOs will collaborate on improving farmer knowledge and access; and, in supporting knowledge development.
The Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) project is designed to strengthen and re-orient agricultural production systems in Bangladesh. The AAPI project goal is to improve food security and accelerate income growth in rural areas by increasing agricultural productivity on a sustainable basis. The project will promote efficiency of agricultural inputs through an integrated approach. It will promote use of good quality seed, judicious application of balanced fertilizer and better water management practices. Emphasis is on improving farmer access to and use of fertilizer deep placement (FDP) technology to improve crop yields and economic returns to farmers. In addition, AAPI will support capacity building, policy reform, and micro-enterprise development that are crucial to sustainability of agriculture production systems. An estimated 3.5 million farmers will benefit from AAPI and 1,800 private entrepreneur supply points established to afford farmers access to FDP products. Under the 18 month AAPI scale up plan as per Feed the Future initiative of USAID, implementation strategy will be enhanced to include model villages to accelerate improvements in farm production systems with added attention given to crop diversification and post-harvest/value chain improvement. The estimated savings to the Government of Bangladesh due to improved nutrient use efficiency is US$84 million.
AAPI will also promote water use efficiency through Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) technology and use of quality seed. The AAPI project is funded by the people of the United States of America through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) for a period of five years.