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Agriculture and Rural Development

Innovative agribusinesses could drive agriculture modernization in Sri Lanka

Andrew D. Goodland's picture

Agribusiness can help drive prosperity in Sri Lanka – and we know just the entrepreneurs to do it. Over the last few months, we have seen over 1000 proposals come pouring in for consideration under the matching grants scheme (MGS) for agribusiness.  Today, the Government will sign the grant documents with the first entrepreneurs to make the cut.



The winning proposals lay out a clear plan for commercial and export-oriented agriculture initiatives that facilitate private sector investment, provide technical assistance, strengthen farmer producer organizations and promote smallholder–agribusiness partnerships.
 
The goal is to increase their competiveness, business orientation and market position in order to make them more attractive business partners in the value chain. It’s an ambitious task, but Sri Lanka’s agri-entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge.
 
Matching grants scheme supports agribusiness
 
The matching grants scheme, implemented by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Primary Industries comes under the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project. Supported by the World Bank, with additional funding from the European Union, the project is implemented through the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Ministry of Agriculture, and five participating provinces including the Northern, Eastern, Central, North-Central and Uva Provinces.
 
A rigorous and transparent selection process was used to create a shortlist. Successful applicants would be offered up to 50 percent of the investment required through the scheme, matched by their own funds or raised from commercial loans.  
 
These small enterprises need the boost. Today, beside a few major agriculture companies, most operators in Sri Lanka are small-scale cultivators who face problems related to low productivity and lack of diversification, absence of market linkages, non-availability of inputs and limited access to credit facilities. Farmers are not organised and tend to focus on low value crops that limit income generation.

Promoting better nutrition in Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
 Izabela Leao / World Bank
School children singing and dancing in Samtse Dzongkhag. Photo Credit: Izabela Leao / World Bank

Bhutan is no ordinary place.

A landlocked Himalayan kingdom tucked in a mostly rugged mountainous terrain between India and China, it measures prosperity by assessing its citizens’ level of happiness by way of a Gross National Happiness index.

Equally striking, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60 percent of its national land be preserved under forest cover, making Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative country.

Bhutan’s geography – with land rises ranging from 200 meters in the southern foothills to 7,000 meters in the high northern mountains – consists of three major agro-ecological zones that allow for a rich biodiversity and seasonal foods.

This natural wealth, however, comes with its caveats as Bhutanese living in isolated rural areas can’t access a reliable diverse diet throughout the year.

"Many families in rural Bhutan practice two meals rather than three meals a day," reports Ms. Kinley Bidha, Tarayana Foundation Field Officer in Samtse Dzongkhag. "Some for cultural reasons, others due to a shortage of food, others due to a shortage of land too farm," she adds.

Overall socio-economic development in the last three decades has led to a rapid improvement in health and nutrition outcomes in Bhutan – the country’s infant mortality rate declined to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2012 down from 90 per 1,000 in 1990; while the rate of stunting in children under 5 years declined 24 percent from 1986 levels.

Nonetheless, the lack of variety of foods in diet remains a key concern, especially for pregnant and nursing women as well as young children. And while most families feed their children complementary food, fewer than a quarter of parents provide them nutritious meals essential to their health.

In addition, 67 percent of Bhutanese adults consume less than the recommended five servings (or 400 grams) of fruits and/or vegetables per person a day [National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2015].

When consumed, vegetables consist for the most part of two national staples, potatoes and chilies, which hardly provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Keeping regional variations in mind, between 16 and 34 percent of children under 5 are stunted—or too short for their age—seven percent of children are underweight, 35 percent of children of age 6-59 months and 44 percent of women of reproductive age are either anemic or iron deficient. Exclusive breastfeeding rates for six-month-old children remain at a low 50 percent (NNS, 2015).  

Damages caused by malnutrition during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life are irreversible and contribute to stunting and lower immunological and cognitive development, and predispose to adult-onset diseases (including metabolic syndrome).

Thankfully, the negative impact of malnutrition on Bhutan’s economy is now better understood and has become a priority to promote its national development.

Indian agriculture at a crossroads: Smart solutions towards doubling farmers’ incomes

Martien van Nieuwkoop's picture
A few weeks ago, I felt a sense of déjà vu.  I was at a roundtable on agriculture in Delhi, in the same conference hall where, ten years ago, I participated in the consultations on the Bank’s World Development Report 2008 on Agriculture for Development
 
This time we were discussing how India can build a stronger agriculture sector without further harm to the environment or depletion of its natural resources.  The high-level dialogue was attended by senior representatives from India’s Niti Aayog, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, leaders of farmers’ associations from Punjab and Haryana, as well as by researchers, academics, and donors.

We focused on the ‘agriculture-water-energy’ nexus, achieving India’s second green revolution, making agriculture more climate resilient, as well as options to stop the burning of crop residue that is worsening air quality in much of northern India. It was heartening to see the torch bearers of India’s drive towards food security unhesitatingly debate a host of complex and sensitive issues.
 
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Over the past six decades, India has come a long way from being a famine-prone country to comfortably producing food for 1.25 billion people from finite arable land. Food security firmly in hand, the government is now targeting to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.  Today, with rapidly growing urban food markets, India is emerging as a global agricultural powerhouse.

The latest poverty numbers for Afghanistan: a call to action, not a reason for despair

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو

The just-released Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS) paints a stark picture of the reality facing Afghanistan today. More than half the Afghan population lives below the national poverty line, indicating a sharp deterioration in welfare since 2011-12.[1]  The release of these new ALCS figures is timely and important. These figures are the first estimates of the welfare of the Afghan people since the transition of security responsibilities from international troops to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in 2014.

While stark, the findings are not a surprise

Given what Afghanistan has gone through in the last five years, the significant increase in poverty over this period is not unexpected. The high poverty rates represent the combined effect of stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures, and a deteriorating security situation in the context of an already impoverished economy and society where human capital and livelihoods have been eroded by decades of conflict and instability.

The withdrawal of international troops starting in 2012, and the associated decline in aid, both security and civilian, led to a sharp decline in domestic demand and much lower levels of economic activity. The deterioration in security since 2012, which drove down consumer and investor confidence, magnified this economic shock. Not surprisingly, Afghanistan’s average annual rate of economic growth fell from 9.4 percent in the period 2003-2012 to only 2.1 percent between 2013 and 2016. With the population continuing to grow more than 3 percent a year, per capita GDP has steadily declined since 2012, and in 2016 stood $100 below its 2012 level. Even during Afghanistan’s years of high economic growth, poverty rates failed to drop, as growth was not pro-poor. In recent years, as population growth outstripped economic growth, an increase in poverty was inevitable.

په افغانستان کې د فقر په هکله د وروستیو ارقامو او شمېرو خپراوی: د عملي او مخنیوونکو اقدامونو لپاره خبرتیا، نه د ناهیلۍ رامنځته کول

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | دری

د افغانستان د احصائيي مرکزي ادارې لخوا په افغانستان کې د ژوند د وضعیت د څېړنې سروې موندنې په دغه هېواد کې د شته واقعیتونو به هکله یو مشرح انځور څرګند کړی. ترلاسه شوي معلومات دا څرګندوي، چې د افغانانو له نیمایي څخه زیات نفوس د فقر د کرښې لاندې ژوند کوي، چې دا حالت د ۲۰۱۱ – ۲۰۱۲ زېږدیز کلونو[i] په پرتله د ټولنیزې- اقتصادي اوضاع په لا خرابېدلو دلالت کوي. د دغې سروې د تازه ارقامو او معلوماتو خپراوی په ډېر مناسب وخت کې ترسره کېږي، ځکه چې دا ارقام او اړونده تحلیلي ټولګه ېې د افغانستان د خلکو د هوساینې وضعیت وروسته له هغه چې په ۲۰۱۴ کال کې له نړیوالو ځواکونو څخه د افغانستان امنیتي ځواکونو ته امنیتي مسوولیتونو لېږد ترسره شو، په تفصیل سره څېړلۍ ده.
که څه هم د دغې سروې موندنې ناهیلۍ کوونکې دي، خو د حقیقت پربنسټ دي

دې حقیقت ته په پام سره، چې افغانستان په تېرو پنځو کلونو کې له زیاتو پېښو سره مخامخ شو او ډېرې لوړې او ژورې ېې تجربه کړې، نو ځکه په اوس وخت کې د فقر او بیوزلۍ د بې ساري زیاتوالي تمه هم کېدله. د فقر لوړه کچه د اقتصادي فعالیتونوله کمښت، د نفوس د زیاتوالي او د امنیتي وضعیت له خرابېدلو سره مستقیمه اړیکه لري. له بلې خوا د داسې یوې ټولنې جورښټ، چې اقتصادي بنسټونه ېې د اوږد مهاله جګړې او بحران له امله ویجاړې شوې وي او بشري ځواک او معیشتي برخې ېې د ټیکاو او امنیت د نه شتون له امله خورا زیانمنې شوي وي، پرته له کوم شک څخه، چې د فقر ټغر هم پکښې ډیر پراخ پاتې کېږي.

د ۲۰۱۲ زېږدیز کال په لومړیو کې د نړیوال ایتلاف د ځواکونو په تدریجي وتلو سره، او په ورته مهال د افغانستان د ملکي او پوځي څانګو د مالي مرستو کمېدل، د اقتصادي فعالیتونو او د خصوصي سکټور خدماتو لپاره د تقاضا کچه ېې په شدت سره زیانمنه کړې  ده. له ۲۰۱۴ کال وروسته د امنیتي وضعیت خورا خرابوالۍ د دې لامل شو، څو د پانګوالو او مستهلکینو باور په سیاسي اوضاع باندې را کم شي، او له دې امله یو ستر اقتصادي ټکان رامنځته شو. پرته له کوم شک څخه د افغانستان اقتصادي وده، چې له ۲۰۰۳ څخه تر ۲۰۱۲ کلونو پورې شاوخوا ۹،۴ سلنه وه، وروسته له هغه چېد ۲۰۱۳ تر ۲۰۱۶ کلونو په ترڅ کې امنیتي وضعیتخورا خراب شو، نو له امله ېې اقتصادي وده هم ۲،۱ سلنې ته را ټیته شوه. د نفوس د کچې د ۳سلنې، کلنۍ وده سره جوخت، د ناخالص کورني تولید په حساب د سرانه عاید کچه له ۲۰۱۲ کال راپدېخوا په دوام داره بڼه را ټيته شوې ده، څرنګه چې د ۲۰۱۲ کال په پرتله په ۲۰۱۶ کال کې د ۱۰۰ امریکايي دالرو په اندازه را ټیټه شوې ده. د یادونې وړ ده، چې حتي په هغو کلونو کې چې افغانستان یوه ښه اقتصادي وده لرله، د فقر او بېوزلۍ په کچه کې هراړخیز لږوالی رامنځته نه شو، ځکه، چې د اقتصادي ودې محور د هېواد په بېوزلو سیمو کې د فقر په کموالي تمرکز نه درلود. پر دې سربېره، په وروستیو کلونو کې له اقتصادي ودې څخه د نفوس د کچې د ودې چټکوالی، د دې لامل شوی، څو د فقر لمن نوره هم پراخه شي.

نشر آمار و ارقام اخیر پیرامون وضیعت فقر در افغانستان: هشدار برای اقدامات عملی و پیشگیرانه، نه ایجاد نا امیدی

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو

نشر سروی وضعیت زندگی درافغانستان توسط اداره مرکزی احصائیه یک تصویری کلی از واقیعت های موجود را در این کشور برملا میسازد. آمار و ارقام ارایه شده حاکی از آنست که بیشتر از نصف افغانها در زیر خط فقر زندگی مینمایند، که این حالت نشان دهنده تشدید وخامت اوضاع اجتماعی- اقتصادی نسبت به سالهای ۲۰۱۱-۲۰۱۲ میلادی[i] میباشد. نشر یافته ها و ارقام تازه این سروی در زمان مناسبی صورت میگیرد، چنانچه که این ارقام نخستین بسته معلومات تحلیلی پیرامون چگونگی وضعیت رفاه مردم افغانستان را پس از زمان انتقال مسؤولیت های امنیتی از نیروی های بین المللی به نیرو های امنیتی افغانستان در سال ۲۰۱۴ فراهم میسازد.

باوجود اینکه یافته ها این سروی نا اُمید کننده اند، اما مبتنی بر واقیعت اند

باتوجه به آنچه که در افغانستان در طی پنج سال گذشته اتفاق افتاده و این کشور مسیر پر فراز و نشیب پیموده، افزایش چشمگیر فقر در این مقطع زمانی دور از انتظار نبود. میزان بُلند فقر رابطه مستقیم با رکود فعالیت های اقتصادی، افزایش تراکم  نفوس و بدتر شدن وضعیت امنیتی دارد. از سوی دیگر ساختار های اقتصادی افغانستان طی سالیان متمادی در اثر جنگ و ناامنی از هم فروپاشیده و منابع بشری و معیشتی آن بنابر بی ثباتی و نا امنی به شدت آسیب دیده باشد، بدون شک که ریشه های فقر بستر گسترده دارد.

با شروع تدریجی خروج نیرو های بین المللی در اوایل سال ۲۰۱۲ میلادی، و کاهش همزمان کمک های مالی به بخش های نظامی و ملکی، میزان عرضه و تقاضا به خدمات و فعالیت های اقتصادی و سکتور خصوصی نیز به شدت کاهش یافت. بدترشدن اوضاع امنیتی پس از سال ۲۰۱۴؛ باعث کاهش اعتماد سرمایه گذاران و مسهلکین نسبت به اوضاع سیاسی گردید و این وضعیت بالنوبه یک شوکه اقتصادی بزرگ را ایجاد کرد. بدون شک میزان رُشد اقتصادی افغانستان که طی سالیان ۲۰۰۳ الی ۲۰۱۲ همه ساله در حدود ۹،۴ درصد بود، در اثر بدتر شدن اوضاع امنیتی در جریان سالهای ۲۰۱۳ الی ۲۰۱۶ به ۲،۱ درصد کاهش یافته است. همزمان با رُشد ۳ درصدی میزان نفوس در سال، میزان درآمد سرانه به حساب تولید ناخالص داخلی از سال ۲۰۱۲ بدینسو به طور دوامدار کاهش یافته است، چنانچه که  در سال ۲۰۱۶ به اندازه ۱۰۰ دالر امریکایی کاهش در مقایسه به سال ۲۰۱۲ گزارش گردیده است. شایان ذکر است که حتی در طول سال های که افغانستان رُشد اقتصادی مطلوب را تجربه کرد، کاهش قابل ملاحظۀ در میزان فقر رونما نگردید، زیرا محور رُشد اقتصادی در کاهش فقر بر محلات فقیر این کشور متمرکز نبود. رویهمرفته با پیش افتادن افزایش رُشد نفوس از رُشد اقتصادی در طی سال های اخیر، افزایش میزان فقر غیر قابل اجتناب بود.

Managing climate risks in South Asia: A “bottom up” approach

Poonam Pillai's picture
Surma river between Bangladesh and India
The Surma River that flows between Bangladesh and India. Photo Credit: Poonam Pillai

Being from Kolkata, I have always been used to floods. Prolonged flooding typically meant schools and offices closed, traffic jams and a much-needed respite from the tropical summer heat. However, it was during a field visit to the flood prone northeastern border of Bangladesh, where rivers from India flow downstream into Bangladesh, that I fully appreciated the importance of disaster early warning systems and regional collaboration in saving lives, property, enabling communities to evacuate and prepare for extreme weather events.

Disaster early warning systems, along with other information services based on weather, water and climate data (sometimes known as “hydromet” or “climate services”) play a key role in disaster preparedness and improving the productivity and performance of climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture.  Along with investments in resilient infrastructure, risk financing strategies and capacity building measures, they are a key part of a toolkit for strengthening disaster and climate resilience.  Research shows that for every dollar spent on disaster early warning systems, the benefits range from $2-10.  In South Asia, these are particularly important given the region’s extreme vulnerability to climate risks and staggering socio-economic costs arising from extreme weather events.

Rural Women Entrepreneurs: What does it take?

Shobha Shetty's picture

“Sabse jyada munafa chuski mein hai (The biggest margin lies in small ice pops)”, says Shanti Devi with the definitive confidence of a seasoned entrepreneur. Shanti, a resident of Kotwana village in Bihar’s Gaya district runs an ice-cream production and sales unit that has an annual revenue of INR 1.9 million and employs 22 workers for a significant part of the year. While sharing the long list of ice-cream flavours she vends, Shanti also signals at a much larger phenomenon. “Every third shop in this market is run by a JEEViKA member, ranging from grocery and utensil stores to a newspaper agency.”


Shanti is the microcosm of a transformative ecosystem that has nurtured 1.8 million new and existing women entrepreneurs while creating 800,000 new jobs in India. The JEEViKA that Shanti refers to, is a World Bank supported program of the Government of Bihar aimed at empowering women through Self-Help groups (SHGs), commodity specific producer groups and higher federations. The approach scaled up nation-wide under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is driving growth and job creation in rural areas through women-owned enterprises.

Today there are 45 million rural women across India that are mobilized into self-help groups under the NRLM umbrella. Some 3.9 million SHGs and their federations have been empowered with skills, access to finance, markets, and business development services.  This is triggering a huge change in the lives of the rural women.

Can cash transfers solve Bangladesh’s malnutrition?

Rubaba Anwar's picture
Silvi and her mother arrive with Silvi’s birth certificate to enroll into Jawtno. a cash transfer program aimed to help 600,000 poor families in Bangladesh access prenatal and child care.
Silvi and her mother arrive with Silvi’s birth certificate to enroll into Jawtno. a cash transfer program that aims to help 600,000 poor families in Bangladesh access prenatal and child care. Credit: World Bank


Silvi is eight months old. She lives in a remote village in one of the poorest regions of Bangladesh.
 
Her mother Maya often reflects on her pregnancy and worries about her daughter’s wellbeing as she recalls her morning sickness, the uncertain and painful birth, and the long nights at Silvi’s side as the baby lay wide awake wailing, fighting one illness after the other.
 
She remembers, too, the thrills of hearing Silvi giggle at the sound of her rattle, and when she began to crawl.
 
Despite the little joys that her baby brings to Maya, Silvi’s early childhood was marked with apprehension: Shouldn’t she be a little heavier? When will she learn to walk? Will she be healthy and intelligent enough to earn a decent living when she grows up? Or would she be handed down her parents’ poverty and get married like Maya had to, at only sixteen?
 
But with the right kind of support, Silvi can have a chance at a better life and bring her family out of poverty.
 
Growing evidence has shown that adequate nutrition before birth and the two years after – or in the first 1,000-days – has lasting effects on a child’s intelligence and brain development.
 
When they’re properly fed and exposed to learning, children can reach their full potential and break the poverty trap.
 
Thus, investing in early childhood nutrition and cognitive development (CNCD) is critical to curbing poverty in a country like Bangladesh, where 36 percent of children below the age of 5 are stunted —or too short for their age--, low birth weight is prevalent, and maternal nutrition remains poor.
 
Sadly, poor families like Maya’s are not utilizing services available to them.  

Colombo: Beyond concrete and asphalt

Darshani De Silva's picture
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them

Protecting nature in Sri Lanka’s capital for resilience and sustainability

The world is urbanizing at a very fast pace – but it seems like Sri Lanka is an exception.

In 2014, the island was listed as one of the least urbanized countries in the World Urbanization Prospects (WUP),  with less than 20 percent of the population in urban areas. By 2050, WUP projected that number would rise to only 30 percent.
 
Does this mean we still have to worry about the country’s urbanization? The short answer is yes.

This is, after all, an island nation with one of the highest population densities, complex and evolving social systems and intricate ecosystems.

Meanwhile, urbanization, even at relatively slower pace, is still changing migration patterns, altering the way urban populations consume resources, and impacting the affordability of land and other assets.

These, in turn, are increasing the demand for resources. Growing inequality can be seen as a result of the displacement of less affluent communities, while the loss of important ecosystems has negatively affected resilience and sustainability.

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