Working packages

Institute & masterprogram

The primary objective of the project is to develop a CSA institute at PSTU for strengthening CSA
education and research and building resilience in agriculture of coastal Bangladesh. As part of this centre a Master Programme will be developed. The institute aspires to offer MSc and PhD degrees together with CSA research and training.

Collaboration with private/public sector or farmers

To realize the projects’ aim to conduct focussed and problem-oriented research on climate-smart agriculture in Bangladesh, it provides funding for collaborative research projects. The content of the collaborative research will have to fall within a common research agenda (set by main partners of the RECSA project) and will be connected to other research executed within the project, by post-docs and PhD candidates. The research agenda will consist of multiple research lines and in general will be aimed to fill identified knowledge gaps.
One of the main objectives of the collaborative research projects is to present an opportunity for junior staff (whilst not excluding senior members) and students of PSTU, to actively engage in climate smart agriculture and to gain experience in the application of CSA research. The collaborative research projects will be carried out by staff from different departments of the PSTU Faculty of Agriculture, thereby promoting the development of interdisciplinary skills and stimulating collaboration between the departments of the university.
Furthermore, the research should be carried out in cooperation with one or multiple project partners (i.e. Wageningen University and Research, CIMMYT, Acacia and The Salt Doctors), as well as with other local organizations and institutes that are part of or linked to the agricultural sector in coastal Bangladesh. For example: other local or international universities, research institutes, private sector (e.g. Lal Teer) and public sector partners.
The focus of collaborative research projects should be on helping vulnerable groups by increasing their resilience to climate change. Another main factor is the consideration of the importance of gender differences throughout the research (e.g. mainly male household heads leave to urban centres for employment, therefore many households and farming systems are managed mainly by women). Finally, the dissemination of locally specific knowledge and CSA technologies to agricultural communities is an objective of the collaborative research as well.

Outputs collaborative research:

  • Have conducted at least four collaborative research projects
  • Have trained 12 staff member of the PSTU in proposing and conducting research with
    external partners
  • Have published at 4 conference papers and/or papers in scientific journals
  • Have developed at least two research proposals

Collaboration with private/public sector or farmers

Introduction:
The goal of this work package is to link the project activities to the private and public sector and reach out to farmers. The activities and goals will be linked to the other work packages in the form of internships, case studies, training and collaborative research.
Our aim is to create capacity through education and research on CSA with a particular focus on dry season cash crop farming in the coastal plain of Bangladesh.
Elements for education and research
In education and research, we want to develop and disseminate knowledge, techniques and practices to cope with the lack of irrigation water and the saline soils and groundwater which is one of the major limiting factors in this region. Essential elements of new education and research on dry season farming in this region are 1) techniques for water storage like AGRIMAR, field drainage and irrigation, 2) inputs like salt tolerant seed varieties and degradable agrochemicals and 3) crop cultivation strategies under saline conditions, 4) soil management, and 5) irrigation practices.
In developing this knowledge there will be a coorporation with local private sector parties like suppliers of seeds and agrochemicals and contractors for water storage, drainage and irrigation systems. But also cooperation with agricultural extension offices and public entities like village committees, farmer associations and water boards are essential. This is particularly needed where the scale of the technical interventions (storage, drainage and irrigation) surpass the field scale of individual farmers.

Collaborative research between the project partners and other Bangladeshi research organizations should take place, focusing on improved (ground)water resources management, efficient water use for irrigation, and saline farming. The project will develop a range of inhouse training courses and strategic agricultural innovation activities to disseminate CSA knowledge and technologies to coastal communities. The experience, based on the work in the Netherlands where similar conditions exist, learns that this CSA knowledge, can additional to inhouse training best be developed by using realistic pilot schemes like the existing pilot on Managed Aquifer Recharge for agriculture (AgriMar) and saline farming at the present Research and Training Center of ICCO, Salt Farm Texel and Lal Teer Seed located in Bagerhat.
This location could be used to conduct focused and problem-oriented CSA collaborative research and training (for postgraduate fellows). This location can also be used as a local field case (e.g. management aquifer recharge for agriculture, saline farming), to share the experiences between the public and private sector (e.g. vegetable and potato agribusiness) and collaboration with communities. This will improve the link between university education and the private sector, and further prepare students for the future labor market. This location can also be used as a showcase to inform coastal communities about the possibilities to adapt to increasing salinity and water shortage.

The proposed activities focus on achieving the above-mentioned points. In short,
this focusses on crop cultivation in the dry season. The challenges in the dry season include
increasing salinity and freshwater shortage. Crop cultivation in the dry season can be achieved by cultivating salt tolerant crops and ensuring the availability of freshwater.

Training and education:
Knowledge and skills about this form of CSA has to be disseminated to the PSTU staff, students and the coastal community. Acacia Water and The Salt Doctors have the ambition to create capacity, through education and research, for CSA focusing on dry season cash crop farming in the coastal plain of Bangladesh. In education and research we want to develop and disseminate knowledge, techniques and practices to cope with the lack of irrigation water and the saline soils and groundwater in this region. Essential trainings for dry season farming in this region are:


1) Introduction into groundwater and sustainable groundwater management;
2) techniques for water storage like AGRIMAR, field drainage and irrigation;
3) inputs like salt tolerant seed varieties and degradable agrochemicals;
4) crop cultivation strategies under saline conditions;
5) soil management, and;
6) irrigation practices

All these elements can be covered by training and education, both “indoor” as well as in the field. For disseminating this knowledge, we also want to cooperate with local private sector parties like suppliers of seeds and agrochemicals and contractors for water storage, drainage and irrigation systems.

To improve the capacity of the “Potential future staff of the Institute and current staff of
the faculty of Agriculture” current staff of the institute we will train two PhD students, at least eight post-docs and develop and give at least 3 short courses. Staff will be actively involved developing the new courses for the MSc. The combination of activities for staff are to actively engage more senior and more junior staff.

Private and public sector cooperation:
Cooperation with agricultural extension offices and public entities like village committees, farmer associations and water boards are essential. To start linking education with private and public sector There will be an assessment, by a round of interviews, to be able to conclude on the specific student qualifications needed by both private and public sector parties. The results of the assessment will clarify the specific needs of qualifications needed in the sector.

Farmer field days
The experience, based on the work in the Netherlands where similar conditions exist, learns that this CSA knowledge, can best be developed during days in the field together with students, civil servants, entrepreneurs from the entire supply chain and farmers. The aim is to listen to the existing challenges, create awareness of the challenges the experts see within the field of water management and salinization and to discuss opportunities. This can be achieved by organizing Farmer Field Days or set up training sessions for communities. The Farmer Field Days are the ideal platform the link education, Page 10 of 17 private sector, government and research institutes together in order to achieve the intended impact of the project.
These Farmer Field Days can best be organized at a realistic pilot scheme as the one which is
available in Bagerhat. Other possibilities like creating an additional pilot scheme near to PSTU or looking for other interesting field locations to organize Farmer Field Days. By making use of field locations, staff and students from PSTU can be trained in a practical way, which makes them able to become extension officers to help coastal communities to adapt. These field locations can also be used to provide coastal communities with the knowledge and skills that they need to adapt. Students and staff can use these pilot schemes for their curriculum courses and MSc and PhD studies.

Outputs & Outcomes
Have trained CSA knowledge and technologies to PSTU staff and students in at least the 6
fields of expertise mentioned;
– Have carried out a needs assessment with private and public sector parties in relation to the
students qualifications on CSA knowledge for the future;
– Have disseminated the private and public sector needs for CSA qualifications to WUR and PSTU and have shown commitment to integrate the needs in the curricula;
– Have in place multi-stakeholder platforms linking education, private sector, government and
research institutes;
– Have disseminated CSA knowledge and technologies at the Farmer Field Days to the
attendees in at least the 6 fields of expertise mentioned;
– Increased implementation of CSA practices at the community level in the coastal zone of
Bangladesh, with more farmers using advanced knowledge and technology.

Staff training

The training of staff of the PSTU faculty of agricultural will focus on three different activities: (1) Two PhD students will be supported by the project, (2) Post-doctoral training for the PSTU senior staff and (3) short courses in Bangladesh for the more Junior staff.

PhD students:
During the inception phase a call for PhD student was circulated among the staff of the PSTU faculty of agriculture. Six candidates applied for two positions. All candidates submitted a motivation letter, CV and a one page outline of the research ideas in line with the research focus of the project. All six candidates were interviewed during the inception workshop at PSTU. 50% gender quota were considered in selecting the candidates. Two candidates clearly stood out above the rest. The candidates selected are Md Isfatuzzaman Bhuyan (Male) and Moriom Akter Mousumi (Female)

Post-doctoral training for the PSTU senior staff:

Within the project will be 8 post-doctoral training project. Each of the selected post-doc will have training at Wageningen University, do a research project and develop a course for master program of the CSA institute. The post-doc will come to Wageningen for 3 months. During this three months they will follow a CSA related master course for one month. They will start with the development of a course and draft a research proposal. The last nine months will be spent at PSTU. The programme will end with a seminar where each of the post-doc will present their
results. The aim is to publish a paper co-authored by PSTU staff and staff of the other partners and link the researchers to other experts in their field of work in Bangladesh and internationally.

Courses

For staff of the Agricultural Faculty not involved in the post-doc and PhD projects at least three different site trainings at PSTU will be organised . The trainings aim at 20 to 30
participants. The broad topics of the courses will be:

  1. Introduction to Climate Smart Agriculture
  2. Climate (Change) data and assessing climate change impacts on water resources and food
    production
  3. Climate Change Adaptation in the Agricultural Sector in Bangladesh.
  4. Field training – Saline farming in Bangladesh.

Outputs training staff:

  • Have increased the capacity of PSTU staff in Climate Smart Agriculture
  • Have trained two PhD students trained in climate services and saline agriculture
  • Have trained 8 senior staff member trained in CSA during Post-doctoral training programme
  • Have developed and implemented three short courses in CSA
  • Have trained 40 staff members/MSc students in CSA during short courses
  • Have written 10 joined papers and submitted to scientific journals as part of post-doc and PhD
    projects

Gender

A gender strategy will be developed.. The gender policy document will be
prepared based on the gender need assessment and staff’s views regarding implementation
strategies. A local consultant will be employed to identify the gender needs and policy document preparation. The gender strategy will have the aim to increase and improve the involvement of Women in the CSA institute specifically and more in General within the Faculty of Agriculture at PSTU. Women here imply both staff of CSA institutes and students. The implementation aims to define in a way that a sizeable percentage of the seat will be reserved for female students. However, the implementations of the strategies seek prior decision of academic council followed by the approval of Regent Board of the university. In addition links will be made with other Work Packages by studying the specific roles of Women in Climate Smart Agriculture and how by acknowledging these different roles the implementation of CSA can be improved.

Labor market

Bangladesh is a country facing substantial shortage of skilled professionals to address the challenge of feeding 192 million people by 2050 while being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change including adverse changes in weather patterns, salinity intrusion due to sea level rise and increasing frequency of extreme events like flood, cyclone and drought. The skill shortage act as a binding constraint to climate resilient growth of agricultural sector in the country. Developmental NGOs and UN organisations regularly advertise positions in climate-agriculture interface requiring skills in quantitative and qualitative surveys, monitoring and evaluation, crop modelling, breeding and agronomy, statistical analysis, greenhouse gas measurement, entrepreneurship, science communication, agri-business support, developmental finance, climate service development etc. Currently the large skill gap including soft skills is mainly addressed through on-job training that imposes substantial financial burden to the agencies and hinders recruitment. The private and public insurance sector will soon launch weather insurance programmes in the country and will need experts
in the cross disciplines of finance, agriculture and climate to develop insurance products. Similar skills are required for banking sector also to assess and mitigate the increasing risks posed to agricultural lending by climate events. There is a movement for clean energy initiatives in agriculture and private sector partners are looking for experts in clean energy and agriculture. Agricultural Universities and research institutes in Bangladesh also need staff members who are experts in agricultural resilience building and managing GHG mitigation. Aquaculture and fisheries is a large sector in Bangladesh that can offer a number of opportunities for people with right research, management and entrepreneurship skills to meet the challenges posed by climatic and environmental factors. There is also a need of specialists in nutrition, gender and agriculture in the health sector and to project managers to address the challenges posed by climate change to poverty eradication and reduction in malnutrition. Climate smart machinery (seed drills, tillage machines and harvesters, solar pumps, precision farming equipment etc.), seed companies (research and sales of stress tolerant and productive seeds) and novel information technology (climate information services, mobile applications, data science experts) ventures could possibly employ students as managers and technology
developers with the right technical and agricultural knowledge. However, a labour market survey will be conducted by employing consultant to identify present status and future labour market needs regarding CSA. As raw material supply and logistics to agribusiness companies are affected with climate events, they also require managers who can build resilience to their operations. Some of the students will also be absorbed by Government agencies like agricultural extension or meteorological departments. There is also emerging opportunities for initiating start-ups and micro-enterprises in the climate and agriculture interface bringing new technology solutions and create employment opportunities.

Investments

To support management of the needs assessment and purchase of investments, the project will
employ a local consultant for assessing the investment needs of the proposed CSA institute at PSTU. These needs may be in line with room, furniture, laboratory, books on gender and CSA, computers, software, access to journals and low-cost vehicle for field visit. The project team will also visit different CSA related laboratories and experts’ offices at national levels to get insight on laboratory needs and consultant available in this area. The major expectation in this part is refurbishing class rooms, laboratory rooms, office rooms and developing CSA laboratory
especially in areas of salinity and meteorological research under the institute.