Cluster-based Farmer Field School in the polders of the coastal zone of Bangladesh: improving effectiveness of extension approach

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By Manoranjan Kumar Mondal, Mary Ann Batas, Muhammad Humayoun Kabir, and Sudhir Yadav

Bangladesh has achieved self-sufficiency in rice using Green Revolution technologies. But, with a population of 165 million that continues to grow at 1.22% annually, the country faces enormous challenges in maintaining food security.

In addition to its increasing population, rapid urbanization is reducing the share of cropland, which is decreasing every year. The cropping intensity and productivity in Bangladesh are already high. There is little scope to further increase food production, except on the underutilized coastal zone lands, especially 1.2 million hectares of arable lands in the polders of the coastal zone of Bangladesh.

High risk, low investment, less production

The agricultural environment in the coastal zone is generally termed as “high risk”. Most farmers adopt a “low investment” risk aversion strategy and ultimately get “less production.”

The polder lands are deprived of technological advancement in agriculture despite significant investment from the government, nongovernment, development partners, and international organizations. The main reason probably is the adoption of “one-size-fits-all” scaling approaches or replicating technological innovations from other regions without adjustments to fit unique socio-organizational and hydrological conditions of the polder ecosystem of coastal Bangladesh.

Too complex polder hydrology for Farmer Field Schools

Many approaches are adopted in agricultural technology dissemination across the globe. Among them, the Farmer Field School (FFS) model has been widely adopted in Asia, especially in Bangladesh. The key features of the FFS model include primary learning, which starts at a crop field and lasts for an entire cropping season; the meeting place is close to the learning plots; the FFS educational methods are experiential, participatory, and learner-centered; and are generally done involving between 25 and 30 farmers of a village.

The FFS approach enhances…

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