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Transforming lands, transforming lives: Hope for millions Struggling for Food for survival in developing countries

Pumpkin Plus: Vision to Leave a Hunger Free World Beyond 2050 by Transforming Agriculture to An Agribusiness System Led by The Women & Youth

Photo of Nazmul Chowdhury.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Pumpkin Plus: A Field Innovation Lab for Riverbed Farming & Char Development

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Farmer Co-op or Farmer Business Organization

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

At this initial stage, the company is running alone. However, it has option to link promising donor, Govt. Institutions i.e. Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministries like Agriculture and Commerce, Hortex Foundation (Govt. market lead in the country), Rural Development Academy (RDA Bogura), Research Institutions like BARI, Development Donors like Swiss-contact, DFID, USAID and Regional Forums like SAARC, ICIMOD-Nepal, few African NGOs etc. It is noted that, initial negotiation is on board with Swisscontact, RDA and expecting more to join in coming years.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

Under process to come up with visibility in few months

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Two districts in Rangpur and Kurigram in North-West Bangladesh

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Bangladesh

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The company is running with over 900 men & women farmers in 3 locations in NW-Bangladesh Gangachar,Kaunia in Rangpur & Ulipur in Kurigram

What country is your selected Place located in?

Bangladesh

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

As a development worker and Innovator of this climate smart technology on behalf of Practical Action, I have been working in North-West since 2004 in different positions i.e. as Project and Programme Manager and has completed my final term with Practical Action, a UK based charity as Strategic Lead- Agriculture and DRR in September 30, 2019. Recently I have launched my won agribusiness company with previous farmers with the aim to transform traditional agriculture to a profit based agribusiness for the poor families affected by frequent natural disasters i.e. flooding, erosion and cold waves. The reasons of my selection is the area is my native area and the community is well known,as me and my team is closely associated with them over a decade. Actually, the place is highly poverty stricken and suffering from frequent natural disasters. These districts are highly food in secured in compare to other districts in the country. All the factors made this regions highly vulnerable to many causes. Natural disasters, vulnerability and peoples suffering are a common phenomenon in this region, where riverbank erosion leads to permanent loss of land for cultivation and shelter. People often have to shelter where basic services i.e. safe water, sanitation, health & education are minimal. Communities are mostly excluded from basic services & facilities. Ill health, undernourishment & hunger are significantly higher. The complexity of the problems results in a high degree of social marginalization, child labour, exploitation. Women & children are the most vulnerable as, in the absence of alternative livelihood & men migration in search of job. As I have fuller understanding on the context & communities, I have taken an opportunity with new hope for transforming agriculture by the youth & women for next generation food security for the country and beyond. Additionally, visioning wider replication in other countries affected by climate change to combat hunger beyond 2050

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Bangladesh is a deltaic country located within the floodplains of the three great rivers the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna These rivers drain a total catchment area of 1.72 million Sq. km of which only 7% lies within the country, and has an estimated 2709 Sq.km of newly raised lands, along the banks of these river system in the North of the country. These transitional lands are composed of coarse & by definition these belong to the government, but in reality these are used by settlers in the vicinity of these barren lands for sandbar cropping of food crops. The poor farmers, who are displaced due to river erosion, produce food crops such as pumpkins, squash and other vegetables. Accessing to these barren sandbars provides alternative livelihoods, food & nutritional security for thousands of landless families. The Northern part of Bangladesh frequently suffers from natural disasters. Vulnerability and peoples suffering are a common phenomenon in this region, where riverbank erosion leads to permanent loss of land for cultivation and shelter. People often have to shelter where basic services i.e. safe water, sanitation, health & education are minimal. Communities are mostly excluded from basic services. Ill health, malnourishment & hunger are significantly higher. The complexity of the problems resulted high degree of social marginalization &, exploitation. Women & children are the most vulnerable as, in the absence of alternative livelihood & men migration in for job. The North-west region is located at the confluence of the two major rivers; namely, Tista and Brammaputra. This geographical location makes the area vulnerable to disasters, especially floods, river erosion & food insecurity. Frequent disasters make the lives much more difficult, by depriving them of land, employment & basic service facilities. Natural disasters, vulnerability and peoples suffering are a common phenomenon in this region, where riverbank erosion leads to permanent loss of land for cultivation and shelter. People often have to shelter where basic services i.e. safe water, sanitation, health & education are minimal. Communities are mostly excluded from basic services & facilities. Ill health, malnourishment & hunger are significantly higher. The complexity of the problems results in a high degree of social marginalisation, child labour, exploitation. Women & children are the most vulnerable as, in the absence of alternative livelihood & men migration in search of job. The Solution: After each rainy season, large sand islands appear in the main rivers of NW Bangladesh. These 'lands' are common property resources but until now have not been used for any productive purpose.The innovator has successfully demonstrated that the growing of pumpkins in small compost pits dug into the sand is both possible and profitable. It has monitored & calculated cost benefit ratios on an average 1:5

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

4666

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

5334514

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The North-west region is located at the confluence of the two major rivers; namely, Tista and Brammaputra. This geographical location makes the area vulnerable to disasters, especially floods, river erosion & food insecurity. Frequent disasters make the lives much more difficult, by depriving them of land, employment & basic service facilities. Natural disasters, vulnerability and peoples suffering are a common phenomenon in this region, where riverbank erosion leads to permanent loss of land for cultivation and shelter. People often have to shelter where basic services i.e. safe water, sanitation, health & education are minimal. Communities are mostly excluded from basic services & facilities. Ill health, malnourishment & hunger are significantly higher. The complexity of the problems results in a high degree of social marginalisation, child labour, exploitation. Women & children are the most vulnerable as, in the absence of alternative livelihood & men migration in search of job. Due to fragile environment food production efficiency is reducing in the entire regions, poor is mostly excluded from basic services and technology link. Without appropriate support they will be more vulnerable and it lead them to acute food insecurity. So the company is willing to support through climate smart technologies and to promote agribusiness system to combat future food insecurity and hunger. The food production technology is focusing nutritionally rich crops and vegetables to combat malnourishment at family level i.e. Pumpkin is Vit-A rcih food and helping families hugely to meet VIT-A deficiency to combat eye blindness, particularly for children and mothers. The cost benefit ratio is so high 1:5 within short time i.e. 150 to 180 days maximum. It has culturally supported higher percentage of women to engage with the innovation close to their home or settlement on flood protection embankment. The new and appropriate technology has shown a great chance of profitability and open opportunity for engagement of couple of thousands beneficiaries with the intervention, where lands are not at all a factor. It has a great policy implications for the country and many South-Asian and African countries to adopt the technology to reach a higher number of communities to help the help themselves to address a number of SDG goals i.e. extreme poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, fair share in natural resources, economic growth and well being, climate change, good health etc. Additionally, empowering women and youth to prepare them for food security for now and beyond 2050. The innovation can offer multiple solutions and global causes with low investment for higher impacts.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Bangladesh is a deltaic country located within the floodplains of the three great rivers the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna These rivers drain a total catchment area of 1.72 million Sq. km of which only 7% lies within the country, and has an estimated 1723 Sq.km of newly accreted lands, locally known as charland  along the banks of these river system in the North-West part of the country.  These charlands (transitional lands or riverbeds) in the river systems are composed of coarse sands and by definition these belong to the government, but in reality these are occupied, or used by settlers in the vicinity of these chars for sandbar cropping of food crops. The poor farmers, who are displaced due to recurrent river erosion, produce food crops such as  pumpkins, squash and other high value vegetables on these ‘barren sandbars’. Accessing to these barren transitional sandbars provides alternative livelihood opportunities, food & nutritional security for thousands of landless families by adopting climate adaptive and climate smart solutions for a sustainable development.

The vision for transformation, with the technological innovation/s will address the following challenges; 1. Contribute to the degradation of agricultural production as a result of climatic conditions by adopting new agriculture technologies to adapt to the changing climate 2. Explore opportunities for higher segment of extreme poor communities to combat poverty 3. Scope to engage big segment of rural women in productive activities close to their home for economic graduation 4. It can equip youths as entrepreneurs and as leader for future food security for now and beyond 2050 5. The food with nutrition can help families to combat undernourishment, particularity for children, adolescent boys and girls and mothers 6. It will allow to get access to common property resources by the resource poor communities for fair share in natural resources 7. It can greatly help in achieving numbers of SDG goals to meet the target by 2030 Finally, it will allow to be better prepared to combat future challenges for the new generations in light of food security, employment, economic growth and development and can leave an appropriate solutions for the generations to come by 2050 and beyond.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The communities are passing through numerous challenges day to day, if they all come under this solutions, within a season by maximum 180 days they can make them food secured for a year. Continuation of the practices can allow them to be more resilience and better prepared to face future challenges. By doing this intervention, they can switch over other income generation opportunities for them and for their family members.It has a great potentials based on previous successes of some early adopters in the regions. Some are now become exporters of their produces to overseas around 5 courtiers and very recently feeding 1.2m Rohingya communities throughout the years by their products grown. Continuous development and support make them as unique community in the country and make them different from others. However, all ready they are, as their approach and technology has incorporated in the National Agricultural Policy-2018 and approved by the Prime Minister as a new technology in agriculture in Bangladesh.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Vision: Dreams to see a world free of hunger and injustices by 2050 and beyond, where people will enjoy their own share through a fair share of natural resources and will enjoy a conflict free environment with no or less competitions among the siblings, community, countries and races. It will happen through the transformation of agriculture into a youth led enterprise in agricultural sector through a climate smart pro-poor solution “Riverbed Farming System” in Barind Regions in North-West Bangladesh. Mission: Transform sandy barren lands, to transform lives of the displaced communities affected by river erosion in Bangladesh Approaches: Promotion of a community led youth agro-enterprise model of cropping by adopting climate adaptive technologies for the improvement of Riverbed Farming System & Char development. Client Base: River erosion affected displaced communities living on the flood protection embankments and settled char in the Tista-Jamuna-Bramhaputra-Padma river system in Barind Tracts region in Northern Bangladesh Geographical areas at initial stage: Rangpur (two Upazila- Kaunia and Gangachara) and Kurigram (One Upazila- Ulipur) and projected all 5 Barind districts situated on the bank of the mighty Tista, Jamuna, Bramhaputra and Padma River system. The North-west region is located at the confluence of the two major rivers; namely, Tista and Brammaputra. This geographical location makes the area vulnerable to disasters, especially floods, river erosion, cold wave, tornado and chronic food insecurity. Frequent disasters make the lives in this region much more difficult than the rest of country, by depriving them of land, employment opportunities and basic service facilities. The situations make the region worse living and found the lives of peoples are below the subsistent level. In addition, Char, silted islands located inside the rivers, represents one of the most isolated and highly vulnerable place of the country. Natural disasters, vulnerability and peoples suffering are a common phenomenon in this region. Pumpkin Plus projected command areas (Rangpur and Kurigram) are the highly disaster prone districts in the North, where riverbank erosion leads to permanent loss of land for cultivation and shelter. People often have to shelter where basic services such as safe water, sanitation, health and education are minimal. Communications for the Char dwellers are extremely poor and communities are mostly excluded from basic services and infrastructure facilities. Ill health, malnourishment and mortality rates for women and children are significantly higher. The remoteness of the Chars (silted islands in the River system) and the transitional sandbar close to rivers and the complexity of the problems results in a high degree of social marginalisation, child labour, exploitation, girl marriage, early pregnancies. Women and children are the most vulnerable as, in the absence of alternative livelihood options particularly in lean season during flooding, basic service facilities, lack of institutional support/private public partnership and men migration in search of employment particularly at household level. Deliverables: The company has planned to carry out the following outcomes over the next three years, which has been started with the targets for Year-1 operation on the ground are as below 1-6; 1.Support to around 1000 sandbar farmers in 5-7 different sandbar locations in two districts i.e. Rangpur and Kurigram highly prone to flooding and river bank erosion and vulnerable to acute food insecurity 2.Provide technical support, inter-cultural mgt. and marketing support free of cost throughout the season 3.Provide high quality seed support at their door steps at reasonable market price (which will allow them to save at least 500 Tk. each for collection from district seeds shop (transport, food and other cost) 4.Provide technical support for grading, preservation and storage for optimum gain of their produces 5.Connect the producers through the company market hub with local, regional, national and international markets for export with optimum price 6.Provide crop diversification support for value addition for more gain from the company’s action research to improve Riverbed Farming System in align with newly incorporated national policy for Agriculture-2018 7.Establish online organic and pesticide free vegetable supply chain by the promotion of “Farm to Kitchen” on the basis of weekly or twice a week supply at upazila, district and capital city based consumers and linking it with supper market as per their interest and demands 8.Provide livestock rearing technical support to complement cropping by home based compost Additionally, the following targets within the next three years 9.Provide support for running year round vegetable and fruits production in main land as contact growers 10.Diversify the industry as small scale food processing i.e. dry fruits, pumpkin soup, cheeps etc. 11.Establish a comprehensive village based market with all relevant services and facilities i.e. long time storage, sorting, grading, packaging, weighing, solar based cooling facilities, accommodation and food provision for long distant buyers and transport workers etc. 12.Increase export with multiple vegetables including Halloween pumpkins, ornamental pumpkins and other high value vegetables i.e. Squash, red beet, cherry tomato, broccoli, turnip, and sunflower seed. Expected outcomes: 1.At the initial stage from October to May 2019 a total of 1000 sandbar farmers will be directly supported through technology demonstration 2.1000 farmers will be able to produce at least 15,000 Mt of squash and pumpkins within 150-180 days 3.Each farmer will be able to earn 1800-2000 USD as gross return with the ration of Cost: Benefit 1:5 4.The 1000 families around 5000 direct household members will be secured for food and nutritional support round the year 5.They will be able to cope with lean season and any catastrophic natural event i.e. flooding 6.These 1000 producers will be able to generate employment of at least 6000-8000 individuals in the form of local on farm labour, transporters, market actors, suppliers, distributors and exporters etc. 7.Each of the producers will support at least 10-15 relatives with the supply of their produces as gift and social gesture 8.This products will greatly help in meeting food insecurity demand of Rohingya community through supply as the trend of last years 9.They will contribute national food chain and support GDP on a significant manner, if 20000-30000 farmers taken the innovation as agriculture enterprise by the way of this company’s initiatives. 10.This technology solution could be a model for the country to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by the way of common property management with the multiplier impacts on household nutrition, women and youth employment, combating tools for climate change and climate change adaptation, increase food supply for millions of consumers etc. and could be a model for other climate change affected countries in the world Future potentials and vision for change: The Company Pumpkin Plus aiming to strengthen the knowledge base of the farmers to continue the innovation on a sustainable manner through further research and development through crop diversifications to improve transitional lands and riverbed farming system to a commercial venture targeting local, regional, national and international export and food processing for value addition. It also aims to secure optimum gains of the farmers by developing a farmer led and village centred market and agribusiness system. Moreover, its R&D will gaining new knowledge and skills to share with others for its expansion in Northern regions by interested institutions, departments, private sectors through consultancy services. The overall objective of the company is to influence local and international policymakers for its wider expansions to benefit many hundred thousand underprivileged communities to combat extreme poverty, hunger, malnourishment and climate change. Resource for future: Based on very recent satellite based study 2017 in the river systems in North, supported by IWM and SPARRSO, it has identified that 2709 Sq.Km transitional lands are available in winter in the mighty river system. Policy implications: It is yet to knowledge of the policymakers and development practitioners the impacts and implications of these huge barren resources in the river system. By developing and promoting model/s for food production, processing, marketing and export can open a new avenue for millions of people and in particular non-resource base poor in the process of food production, processing and distributions. It can greatly help to minimise the bigger problems waiting for the country ahead i.e. population growth VS land losses (@ 1% every year due to natural disaster and urbanization). By 2050 the population will grow up to 200 million and 35% arable lands will be disappeared. There are no alternative, but to use of transitional lands and diversify for food production to protect the famine and food insecurity in coming decades and centuries beyond 2050. Additionally, labour division policy can implemented for major and minor crops production by the rich and poor communities in future.

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Attachments (7)

FB_IMG_1580120854055.jpg

Innovator Feature of Securing Water for Food of USAID and its Consortium on :How to Grow Food in Land People Think is Useless. Nov 25, 2019

FB_IMG_1580120776479.jpg

It is an Innovators feature by Securing Water for Food of USAID and its consortium on the implications of the innovation titled " Ag Innovations: A Good Investment for Government" December 10,2018

Nazmul Works- Past and Present Publications LINKS- Jan 2020.docx

This a word documents with few past and present publication links of the innovation by external.

SIMON Trace- CBE- 99 CEO Blog -50 years working for Technology Justice.docx

The document is a reference letter from the CEO of Practical Action on his contribution for the organisation in 2007 as climate change activist in building awareness of the policymakers in European regions.

SWFF Recommendation Letter_ Nazmul Chowdhury (2).pdf

It is a reference letter from USAID on Innovators after the successful completion of SWFF project at Practical Action during his tenure till Sept. 30, 2019.

Agriculture policy 2018 and strategic fit with PP-FINAL Nazmul-Jan 27 2020.docx

This is a strategic document and an assessment and review of recent country policy, aiming to refit and readjust the innovation to complement country needs and the needs of people of the republic to combat food insecurity, climate change and extreme poverty

Pumpkin Plus- A Journey for Transforming Agribusiness-Final Nov 24,2019.docx

Its a short version company initial vision plan and briefs

11 comments

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Spam
Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Nazmul Chowdhury.  welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!
It is lovely to see such a comprehensive Vision for making agriculture a youth led enterprise.
If you Vision was realised, what would Bangladesh look like in 2050?
How might your work today look like in 2050 if you were to upset the current trends and build a new trajectory for the future that inspires others around you to collaborate? To help you speculate what your future Vision could look like, you can find some guiding principles on Future Casting and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 3 under Tools of Transformation.
Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit: http://bit.ly/2X4ZxQk

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks

Spam
Photo of Nazmul Chowdhury.
Team

Itika Gupta Dear Itika Gupta,
Thank you so much for your kind help in guiding my submission for putting the right visions. I have tried my best to put visions beyond 2050 in my submission. Yet there are more dreams for me to see and its multiplying in each nights, when I think and play with my own thoughts with dreams in silent.
The innovation can offer a series of solutions now and in future.
As I can see and have analysed, without the solution to boost up food production, the country might face a big challenge with its growing population and loosing arable lands @1% per year. By 2050, the expected loss of land at least 35% and population will grow over 200m. There is a chance of famine for sure, without the alternative solution like this. The innovation, will offer the chance to bring over 5000 Sq.Km riverbeds (2709 Sq. Km has already identified through satellite based study in NW part of the nation. Still over 70% river basins yet to explore. These barren new natural resource can offer the country to transform the areas of 1. Food production and supply 2. Engage thousands of poor families in productive role 3. Combat food insecurity and hunger 4. Develop knowledge for others 5. Create huge employment for rural youth and women 6. Diversify agriculture sector as agribusiness through enterprise development. My vision is to attract unemployed educated youth to develop enterprises and take the agriculture sector as lead jointly with farmers to turn the country as the KITCHEN of the WORLD with supply of foods in coming decades. My final dream is to leave a better food secured world for our new generation to come, where the word HUNGER will be replaced by HOPE and HANDFUL of FOOD for all. It may sounds like dream, but I am confident and I can see, it is possible with just little care by the policymakers and development actors with timely planning and very small investment.
Pls do pray for me to proceed with the journey to reach millions around the world.
Best regards

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