Youth engagement and empowerment for sustainable food security in Bangladesh.
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I am Bangladeshi by birth. Since my early childhood I have been fascinated by development sector work as my father worked in the Ministry of Social Welfare. I had a strive to excellence by helping people which became a reality in my professional life. I am leading the Farming Future Bangladesh organization now to improve the challenges I see and face around me, in my country. The country is at an important juncture, when with the right policies and timely action, it can move up within the middle-income bracket. The country is both an inspiration and a challenge for policymakers and practitioners of development. While the income growth, human development and vulnerability reduction efforts to date have been extraordinary, Bangladesh faces challenges of climate change, lack of jobs of young people and there are every scope and opportunity to improve the food system of the country. I feel very committed as I see farmers like Milon Mia from Bogra district who can get benefit if allowed to use the technology they need most and I want to engage and empower younger community to make the difference in future.
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.
The riverine country of Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and its people are predominantly Muslim. As the eastern portion of the historical region of Bengal, the area once formed, along with what is now the Indian state of West Bengal, the province of Bengal in British India. With the partition of India in 1947, it became the Pakistani province of East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), one of five provinces of Pakistan, separated from the other four by 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of Indian territory. In 1971 it became the independent country of Bangladesh, with its capital at Dhaka. Bangladesh is bordered by the Indian states of West Bengal to the west and north, Assam to the north, Meghalaya to the north and northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram to the east. To the southeast, it shares a boundary with Myanmar (Burma). The southern part of Bangladesh opens into the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh has a typical monsoon climate characterized by rain-bearing winds, moderately warm temperatures, and high humidity. In general, maximum temperatures in the summer months, from April to September, are in the low to mid-90s F (mid-30s C). Bangladesh’s heavy dependence on agriculture has long contributed to seasonal unemployment among rural farmworkers, as well as to a generally low standard of living in many areas.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
2020 Challenges: According to World Bank, food security and adequate nutrition are among the basic needs of every human being. In Bangladesh, despite some impressive gains in recent years, a number of concerns still remain, a major independent report says. Led by a team of national experts and guided by a wide range of stakeholders across the country, the report identifies substantial challenges to achieving zero hunger in Bangladesh, and makes recommendations on how to overcome them. The report found that an alarmingly large number of people still remain food insecure and hungry, and most people do not have a sufficiently nutritious and diverse diet. More than 1 in 3 children are still afflicted by stunted growth, and acute malnutrition has not decreased significantly over many years. On top of this, there are emerging concerns with food security and nutrition as a result of socioeconomic and climate change.
2050 Challenges: The population of Bangladesh would reach between 230-250 million in 2050. Presently, the country is adding 2.0 million people annually to the national population and for that it is losing 1 percent of agricultural land every year. There are roughly 8.774 million hectares of cultivable land available, out of which 88 percent is cultivated. So, there is a limited scope to expand the cultivated area. Bangladesh's economy is more at risk to climate change than any country. Without changes to current global behavior, the country could lose around 2 percent of its GDP by 2050. Since two-thirds of the country is less than 15 feet above sea level, a three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20 percent of the entire country, reducing cultivatable land and potentially displacing 35 million people by 2050. Climate change could have devastating impacts on water resources and agriculture; rice production could decline by 8 percent and wheat by 32 percent, creating a very high risk of hunger. On an average, Bangladesh has created 42,857 jobs a year in recent times. the period. A state-run survey found that 1.4 million new faces joined the labor force between 2015-16 and 2016-17, taking the total number to 63.5 million. Finding no jobs and seeing no options in the country, a recent trend has arisen among many unemployed youths to resort to desperate means to leave the country.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Youth constitute one-third of Bangladesh’s 163 million people. Bangladesh is advancing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The 2030 Agenda identifies youth as one of the vulnerable groups which at the same time have the potential to arise as the driving force of any development approach. There is no alternative to making sure that youth, the most creative and enterprising among the people, participate at local, national and international levels in the achievement. (National Youth Policy). The SDGs recognize the need of providing a nurturing environment to the youth by ensuring quality education, training and decent profession. With a rapidly growing population, youth will play a critical role in the development of Bangladesh. Achieving these agenda will require the knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm of the dynamic youth force with their proper leadership role in social development. It is necessary to have strong and effective engagement among young people. Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB) believes that the voices and actions of youth need to be reflected in public understanding of science and innovation, boosting agricultural production and empowering this community to leverage to a sustainable food security. FFB aims to support and engage university-based academia and youth representatives for awareness building on sustainable food security and developing their leadership role in order for youth to be engaged in socio economic development by ensuring evidence-based information and promoting equal access to scientific innovation.
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.
Our vision and action plan has greater hope and several things going in the favor to address the challenges of 2020 and 2050. First, the demographic dividend. As years pass, the average age of its citizens will be lower, but the total size of the population will be larger. The number of people by 2050 would be around 220 million. But these large numbers would not make it a dependent population. Instead, young, educated and dynamic people would be steering the country forward. Next, Bangladesh is relatively small in size. It would be able to develop a world class physical infrastructure with a reasonable outlay. Not more than $200 billion at today's prices would do the job. This would include cost of protection against climate change. Once infrastructure is built and businesses flourish, domestic demand for consumer goods would fuel growth. There would also be added earnings from exports, which would be increasingly diversified and sophisticated. Our regional market is also huge as it includes India, China and the Asean countries. Increased remittances from our nationals abroad as well as agricultural surplus would pave the way to greater prosperity. The West would of course not be sitting idle. But unless it is able to integrate closely with the rest of the world their economic growth could remain anemic.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Youth for Science: Evidence, Urgency & Action.
Youth for Science: Evidence, Urgency & Action
Millions of people have been inspired to join the 16-year-old in raising awareness of environmental issues. Greta Thunberg, the climate champion is a phenomena and reality setting an example what hundreds of policy makers and billions of grants could not make for climate change awareness and action. Youth has enormous potential and they are the future of the world. Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB) is applying for this grant with a vision to engage and empower youth through its campaign Youth for Science: Evidence, Urgency and Action to achieve sustainable food security in Bangladesh.
In developing nations, agricultural innovations are stymied primarily by three factors: inadequate enabling policies; limited technical capacity to advance new techniques; and confused or adverse public opinion. Using approaches specifically tailored to the circumstances in each target areas, our vision will build constituencies of youth champions, particularly urban and rural youth and young women, as nodes of influential communities that can address all three factors simultaneously to achieve the food security, community resilience and development goals.
The vision targets all the six interconnected themes: Environment, Diets, Economics, Culture, Technology, and Policy. Youth can play significant progress in addressing all the activities including improved policy, technological advancement and social acceptance. The progress of youth engagement and empowerment can also make the country as influential regional leaders in adopting new sustainable agricultural innovations to achieve the goals of generating economic growth and fostering resilient and equitable development. Not but least our vision has set economic development goals that include strengthening the agricultural sector. Bangladesh will have large populations of young people seeking employment and women carrying the lion’s share in farming, despite less access to resources.
The Farming Future Bangladesh Youth for Science: Evidence, Urgency & Action Theory is driven by the need to build committed, informed champions skilled in the advocacy and education work most relevant to a journey toward self-reliance and resiliency. Specifically, the proposed activities will engage and develop champions from the following stakeholder groups: scientists; urban elites and social influencers; leaders of NGOs that represent new, but relevant and influential allies (e.g., women’s cooperatives, nutrition organizations, faith-based groups, environmental organizations, youth empowerment groups, etc.); farmers; regulators; and key decision makers (e.g., members of biosafety committees) all aimed to foster youth engagement and empowerment for sustainable food security.
The trained and empowered advocates of Farming Future Bangladesh will work separately and together to influence and strengthen the enabling environment by strategically supporting and advancing functional policy, inclusive and equitable technology development, outside investment and boarder scientific capacity. Skilled champions will work within the interest groups and the larger community to nurture the enabling policy environment, behavioral change of stakeholders and beneficiaries of food value chain and a holistic growth of the entire agricultural sector of the country with a higher vision of sustainably and resilience. Farming Future Bangladesh will employ and engage its proven strategies to engage and empower these diverse young people. It will develop specific training and outreach curriculum for targeted groups. A multi sectoral engagement approach will be implement throughout the project period to attain specific objectives.
Objective 1. Engage champion stakeholders
The Farming Future Bangladesh will employ innovative stakeholder engagement programs to identify and empower strategic stakeholders with location and context-specific training courses covering such topics as policy, advocacy, communications, and agricultural practices, with an emphasis on amplifying the impact of persons already knowledgeable about a related field. Stakeholders who can provide a combined “science and policy” or “farming and policy” or “nutrition and policy” message are extremely helpful in ensuring that national level systems accurately reflect the real challenges, potential benefits and practical applications of food security. Key influencers will also be trained in the techniques of effective advocacy, including grassroots organizing, engaging with policy makers, media outreach, etc., and given specific training in how to communicate about food security issue to different audiences in accurate and compelling ways. Youth are a crucial constituency given the significant population of young people in Bangladesh, government initiatives to expand employment opportunities among youth and youthful interest in technology that encourages receptivity to innovative farming practices.
Anticipated Outcomes: Key stakeholders (farmers, scientists, regulators, youth groups, etc.) have been identified and trained and are advancing enabling policies and societal acceptance to improve the challenges of food security.
Objective 2. Amplify champion voices
The FFB weaves its youth engagement and empowerment programs into strategic communications plans that serve to amplify the voices of champions through traditional and non-traditional channels. Working with on-the ground partners, champions will publish proactive and responsive opinion pieces in influential and local media; appear on popular radio and television programs; inspire fiction platforms (films, comics, etc.); deliver speeches; serve as spokespersons at influential global meetings (i.e., Convention on Climate Change); and engage with locally relevant social influencers.
Anticipated Outcomes: Strategically positioned voices are impacting societal and political opinion of food security through mass media and pop culture outlets.
Objective 3. Assess the equitable impacts of advanced agricultural technology
FFB will assess how specific agricultural technology can reach and benefit both men and women farmers, youth and other marginalized groups, as well as produce a profile of specific technologies and build on existing studies to collect sex- and age-disaggregated data regarding project impacts and beneficiaries. A mixed-methods study will determine whether the increases in household income achieved through the adopted technologies have benefitted all individuals in the household.
Anticipated Outcomes: Qualitative and quantitative data on household distribution of agricultural innovations and adoption of crop benefits advance policy and inform messaging and further technology development decisions.
Objective 4. Expand technical capacity of stakeholders in food value chain and creating scopes for youth and young professionals
FFB will offer customized technical training in food value chain for crops, livestock, and aquaculture as well as effective communications, to qualified scientists at three distinct stages in the career pipeline (youth, mid-career and senior level, with specific attention to female scientists) to build a constituency of scientists who can advance research and speak confidently about the utility of new innovation based on their own direct experience. Courses will range from one week to a year.
Anticipated Outcomes: Scientists are trained as trusted experts to advocate for science-informed, rational, risk-based policy of agriculture. Early career scientists are well positioned to advance research as part of their national agricultural research programs.
Objective 5. Provide communications support for technology developer partners
Tech development projects too often lack sufficient and dedicated communications teams. The FFB has a proven track record of successfully collaborating with technology development projects. FFB will employ digital and traditional media channels to create compelling, locally-adapted communications materials that permeate popular culture through engagement with social media influencers, entertainment industry professionals and others to promote the specific technologies and inspire a positive, progressive attitude toward food security issues.
Anticipated Outcomes: Innovative, high quality communications deliverables are developed and deployed in a timely and proactive manner to support technology development partners.
To accomplish the proposed activities in a manner that is socially, politically and locally astute, FFB has engaged diverse partners with relevant expertise and advantage. In this project FFB involves the leadership and experts of ten women and six men from key agricultural sectors of Bangladesh who will meet twice annually in strategic planning sessions to ensure the deliverables are on track and goals are being met.