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Agriculture and Rural Development

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.

Protecting wetlands: Lessons from Sri Lanka and Maldives

Mokshana Wijeyeratne's picture
Sri Lanka and Maldives are home to rich wetlands that are habitats for a variety of fauna and flora but also benefit the ecosystem
Sri Lanka and Maldives are home to rich wetlands with a variety of fauna and flora that benefit the ecosystem.


Sri Lanka and Maldives share much more than the tag of tourism hot spots, beautiful beaches, and similar cultural traits. Both island nations have a range of unique environments that are rich in biodiversity and serve a myriad of ecosystems functions.

Both countries are home to rich wetlands with a variety of fauna and flora that benefit the ecosystem, including flood protection, water purification, and natural air conditioning and provide food and support to local communities.

Sri Lanka has actively been working to ensure these essential ecosystems are protected. The Maldives has too commenced such great work. This work has produced a wealth of knowledge and innovations on how to manage and conserve wetlands. 

Managing wetlands in Sri Lanka and Maldives

The wetland management and land use planning effort undertaken in Colombo under the World Bank-financed Metro Colombo Urban Development (MCUDP) project showcases resilience in urban land use planning and highlights how a city can become more livable by intermingling green spaces to its urban fabric. All this, while protecting wetlands and reaping the benefits of their natural ecosystem functions.

The MCUDP used robust strategies and sustainable economic models, such as wetland parks, to help save urban wetlands from threats such as encroachment and clearing. Through the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), funded by the European Union and the Government of Australia, Maldives has also taken steps to manage threats to its largest wetlands.

While the approaches to wetland management in both countries have been different there are many key lessons that can be shared.

Improving Agricultural Systems and Raising Prosperity in Rural Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project
Tara Nidhi, farmer and beneficiary
of the Remote Rural Communities
Development Project (RRCDP) in Bhutan.
Photo Credit: Izabela Leao/World Bank

“I never thought I would see a road passing by my house in this lifetime,” says Tara Nidhi, a 70-year old farmer who lives in a remote community of Samtse Dzongkhag in Southwest Bhutan. A beneficiary of the Remote Rural Communities Development Project (RRCDP), he and his family have benefitted from the construction of a new farm road and protection from landslides through RRCDP support – a project that promotes the increasing of agricultural productivity and development of communities’ access to markets, irrigation, agricultural technologies, and community infrastructure in 26 Gewogs (village groups) under six Dzongkhags (districts) in Bhutan: Chhukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse, Trongsa, and Wanduephodrang.

Driving Prosperity through Access to Rural Roads

Coming to completion in May 2018, RRCDP has improved road access to markets to at least 11 project Chiwogs (hamlets) in Samtse and Trongsa Dzongkhags – building 22.9 kilometers of farm roads and benefitting about 299 households. With the construction of new farm roads, the most commonly marketed agricultural and livestock products amongst farmers in project areas have been cardamom, vegetables, butter, cheese, and citrus, and to a lesser extent, rice, potatoes, and eggs. Additionally, beneficiaries have also reported a significant reduction in the time of travel between their households and markets – up to 8 hours in some cases! The majority of the Bhutanese population live in remote rural areas – hours, sometimes days of walking from the nearest road. They walk their children through dense forests and rivers to reach schools and health clinics; they carry their agricultural and livestock products to nearby markets on their backs – an average load of 30kg. A horse carrying a 50kg load costs approximately Nu.5 per kilogram.

Now, with road accessibility, farmers use pick-up trucks at the cost of Nu.2 per kilogram. After a RRCDP farm road construction in Samtse, for example, four households bought pick-up trucks and ten individuals bought motorcycles – mainly benefitting the transport of cardamom. Better road accessibility through RRCDP have also fostered the construction of concrete flush toilets outside households and the construction of new concrete-built homes, as well as the expansion of irrigation schemes. Finally, road accessibility has also impacted social dynamics in rural areas benefitted by the project. While in the past mostly men would go to the nearest town markets on their own, today, all family members, including women and children can go to the market in the morning and return to their homes in the evening. Some women have even reported that they are learning to drive.[1]

The project has also supported beneficiaries in 88 Chiwogs with access to community and marketing infrastructure, such as power tiller tracks, power tiller machinery, and food bridges – with a total of 3,597 households benefitted. In Norgaygang Gewog, for example, with support from the project, the construction of 4 kilometers of power tiller track in 2016, has brought multiple benefits to the community, such as easier access to schools and healthcare in case of emergency.

The quest for a well-resourced holiday meal

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture



Holidays for me have always been about family and food. A time to relax, catch-up with loved ones and eat good food.  When it’s our turn to cook, my husband and I take time to plan the menu. A central part of our meals are vegetables and fresh fruits but we have also learnt over the years that a good meal needs fresh ingredients, all procured as close to the preparation of the meal as possible. 
 
Sri Lanka has not disappointed in its array of fruits and vegetables. I am still discovering the names of many; some of which I will never be able to pronounce for sure. Despite that, I love eating them! 
 
Amongst my favourites are papaya, mangoes and kankun, the last for which I share a passion with my two pet turtles. But getting these vegetables and fruits from the same supplier on a constant basis is a challenge. Even common produce like onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers can be discoloured or squishy – not at all appetizing or conducive for a salad or other such type of fresh dish.
 
The price, of course, is the same whatever the quality. Fresh produce can be expensive, and regularly buying a variety of fruits and vegetables does strain the budgets of many families in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, this shouldn’t be the case in a country with such rich soils and plentiful sunshine.  
 
The question of access to fresh and healthy food goes beyond our holiday tables. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 5 premature deaths in Sri Lanka are due to a non-communicable disease (NCD) such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer.[1] Tobacco use, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity have all been identified as risk factors.

When technology meets agriculture in Bhutan

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Commercial Agriculture is important for Bhutan's Development
Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations. Photo Credit: Bryan Watts/World Bank

Bhutan is a challenging environment in which to develop commercial agriculture. The country has limited areas for agriculture, and its geography and road conditions make logistics and market access costly.

Therefore, commercial agriculture is critical to increase productivity, which will help create jobs and access to more and better food. This can be achieved not only through focusing on high-value products and investing in traditional infrastructure such as irrigation, but also through using information and communication technology (ICT). Based in eastern Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts has developed innovative uses of ICT for its commercial agriculture operations.

Rural Bangladeshis filming their way to better nutrition

Wasiur Rahman Tonmoy's picture
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value.

In Bangladesh, chronic and acute malnutrition are higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) thresholds for public health emergencies—it is one of 14 countries where eighty percent of the world’s stunted children live.
Food insecurity remains a critical concern, especially in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
 
Located in the southeastern part of Bangladesh, CHT is home to 1.7 million people, of whom, about a third are indigenous communities living in the hills. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, but farming is difficult because of the steep and rugged terrain.
 
With support from the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) conducted a food and nutrition analysis which finds that more than 60% of the population in CHT migrates during April – July when food becomes harder to procure.
 
Based on these findings, MJF helped raise awareness through nutrition educational materials and training.  The foundation staff also formed courtyard theatres with local youth to deliver nutrition messages, expanded food banks with nutritious and dry food items, and popularized the concept of a “one dish nutritious meal” through focal persons or “nutrition agents” among these communities.

Forest fires: need for rethinking management strategies

Dr. H. S. Suresh's picture

Earth’s landscape has been subjected to both natural and anthropogenic fires for millions of years.

Natural, lightning-caused fires are known to have occurred in geological time continuously at least since the late Silurian epoch, 400 million years ago, and have shaped the evolution of plant communities.

Hominids have used controlled fire as a tool to transform the landscape since about 700,000 years ago. These hominids were Homo erectus, ancestors of modern humans. Paleofire scientists, biogeographers and anthropologists all agree that hominid use of fire for various purposes has extensively transformed the vegetation of Earth over this period.
 

Dry season ground fire in Mudumalai.  Photo Credit: Dr. H. S. Suresh

The nature of Earth’s modern-day biomes would be substantially different if there had been no fires at all. William Bond and colleagues (2005) used a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model to simulate the area under closed forest with and without fire. They estimated that in the absence of fire, the area of closed forest would double from the present 27% to 56% of present vegetated area, with corresponding increase in biomass and carbon stocks. This would be at the expense of C4 grasslands and certain types of shrub-land in cooler climates.

Climate-smart agriculture is “common-sense agriculture”

Martien van Nieuwkoop's picture
 Neil Palmer / CIAT
Climate-smart agriculture profiles for Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal provide an important step forward in creating a sustainable food system in South Asia. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT


According to a recent study published in Science Advances, climate change is projected to hit South Asia especially hard.
 
Impacts will be particularly intense in the food and agriculture sector. A region inhabited by about one-fifth of the world’s people, South Asia and its densely populated agricultural areas face unique and severe natural hazards. Its food system is particularly vulnerable. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA)-- which is an integrated approach to managing landscapes that is focused on increasing agricultural productivity, improving resilience to climate change, and reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions—is part of the solution.
 
The World Bank is working to mainstream climate smart agriculture in South Asia with a series of Climate-Smart Agriculture or “CSA” Country Profiles for Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, that were launched recently in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders. The findings in the profiles are specific to national contexts, but there is a common thread.  We learned that for South Asia, climate change adaptation and mitigation pose major challenges and opportunities for agriculture sector investment and growth.  
 
The farmers, Government representatives and other stakeholders I met during the CSA Country Profile launches expressed huge interest in learning how they can put CSA into practice.  Farmers especially were interested in making CSA part of their daily farming routines.  As interest grows, so does momentum to take the CSA agenda forward, from research institutions and high level gatherings into farmer’s fields. As one farmer I met in Pakistan said, “Climate-smart agriculture is Common-sense agriculture.
 
Pakistan
 
Climate change is already impacting Pakistan, which often experiences periods of severe droughts, followed by devastating floods. In the aftermath of the 2010 floods, one fifth of the country’s land area was submerged, damaging the economy, infrastructure and livelihoods, and leaving 90 million people without proper access to food. Moving forward, changes in monsoons and increased temperatures will further challenge the agricultural sector, particularly northern Pakistan where vulnerability to climate change is already high.
 
At the same time, CSA offers attractive opportunities for strengthening Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Innovative, technological practices like laser land leveling and solar powered irrigation systems and management changes like crop diversification, proper cropping patterns and optimized planting dates could put Pakistan’s food system onto a more climate-smart path. Investments in research to develop high-yielding, heat-resistant, drought-tolerant, and pest-resistant crop varieties as well as livestock breeds could also make a difference.

چگونه ابتکار و نو اوری در باغداری باعث بهبود در معیشت و درآمد دهاقین و باغداران در ولایت بلخ میگردد؟

Ahmad Fahim Jabari's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of promoting the adoption of improved production practices.
هدف کُلی برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری ترویج و حمایت از روش و شیوه های مُدرن تولیدی محصولات زراعتی برای دهاقین و باغداران میباشد. عکس: برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری/ بانک جهانی

هر روز کاری خود را در ایجاد هماهنگی به منظور تلاش های مشترک با همکاران و سایر شرکای کاری اغاز مینمایم. ازاینکه به صفت یک عضو برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری ایفای وظیفه مینمایم، بسیار راضی هستم، زیرا ما در راستای رُشد و توانمند سازی بنیاد اقتصادی افغانستان تلاش مینمایم.
 زمانیکه من با برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری به حیث مسؤول ارتباطات عامه در سال ۲۰۰۹ به کار آغاز کردم، درک من از وضعیت دهاقین در ولایت شمال در آنزمان این بود که اکثریت آنان فاقد معلومات کافی در مورد کار شیوه های مدرن و استفاده از تکنالوژی پیشرفته در عرصه های باغداری، مالداری و سیستم های آبیاری بودند. اندازه تولیدات و حاصلات زراعتی کمتر از توقع دهاقین  و باغداران بود و کیفیت محصولات یک چالش برای آنان محسوب میشد. به عنوان یک فرد که در بخش زراعت تحصیل نموده ام و در شمال افغانستان زندگی میکنم، زمانی را در گذشته به خاطر می آورم که دهاقین به هیچ وجه ترغیب و تشویق نگردیده ، تا به شیوه های مدرن باغداری روی بیاورند و باوجود آنکه برای امرار معیشت شان تلاش های خستگی ناپذیر مینمودند، اما درآمد شان خیلی ناچیز میبود.

در آغاز مرحله تطبیق پروژه برای دهاقین دشوار بود، تا بالای برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری اعتماد نمایند، مگر با گذشت زمان به گونه تدریجی به اثبات رسید که شیوه های مُدرن که دهاقین و باغداران با آن آشنا گردیدند، از مؤثریت و مؤلدیت بُلند اقتصادی برخوردار  میباشد. محور فعالیت های این برنامه متمرکز به تعدیل و جاگزین ساختن شیوه های عنعنوی باغداری و مالداری به شیوه های مُدرن و مطابق به معیار های پذیرفته شده امروزی میباشد. طرح ایجاد باغ های جدید با غرس نهال های میوه جات متنوع به گونه عملی گردیده است که بازاریابی برای آن سهل بوده و در عین زمان سازگار با شرایط آب و هوا و موقیعت جغرافیایی هر ولایت باشد.

د بڼوالي نوښت په بلخ ولایت کې د بزګرانو او بڼوالو د ژوندانه چارو او عوایدو د ودې لامل

Ahmad Fahim Jabari's picture
Also available in: English | دری
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of promoting the adoption of improved production practices.
د بڼوالي او مالداري د ملي برنامې عمومي موخه دا ده، څو د هېواد بزګران او بڼوالان د کرنیزو محصولاتو د تولید عصري او پرمختللو کړنلارو سره اشنا کړي او په دې برخه کې د هغوی ملاتړ وکړي. انځور: د بڼوالۍ او مالدارۍ ملی برنامه/نړیوال بانک

زه خپله هره کاري ورځ له همکارانو او نورو کاري ملګرو سره د ګډو هڅو په موخه د همغږۍ رامنځته کولو لپاره پیلوم. له هغه ځایه، چې د بڼوالي او مالداري ملي برنامه د یوه غړي په توګه کار کوم، ډیر زیات راضي یم، ځکه د افغانستان د اقتصادي بنسټ د ودې او پیاوړتیا په برخه کې هلې ځلې کوم.

کله چې ما په ۲۰۰۹ زیږدیز کال کې د بڼوالي او مالدارۍ له ملي برنامې سره د عامه اړیکو د مسوول په توګه دنده پیل کړه، هغه مهال د شمال په ولایتونو کې د بزګرانو وضعیت دا وه، چې ډیری شمیر بزګران د بڼوالي، مالداري او د اوبو لګولو سیستم په برخو کي د معاصرو کړنلارو او له پرمختللي ټکنالوژۍ څخه د کارونې په اړه اړین معلومات نه درلودل. د کرنیزو تولیداتو او محصولاتو کچه د بزګرانو او بڼوالو له غوښتنې ډیر لږ وو او د محصولاتو کیفیت د هغوی لپاره یوه ستره ستونزه ګڼل کیده. د یوه کس په توګه، چې د کرنې په برخه کې مې زده کړې کړي او د افغانستان په شمال کې ژوند کوم، کله چې تیر وختونه را یادوم، چې بزګران په هیڅ ډول نه هڅول کیدل او نه تشویق کیدل، څو د بڼوالي په معاصرو تخنیکونو سمبال شي. دا په داسې حال کې ده، چې بزګرانو د خپل ژوندون لپاره نه ستړي کیدونکي هڅې کولې، خو عواید یې ډیر لږ وو.

د بزګرانو لپاره د پروژې پلي کولو د پیل پړاو ستونزمن وو، څو هغوی د بڼوالي او مالدارۍ ملي برنامې باندې باور وکړي، خو د وخت په تیریدو سره په تدریجي ډول دا ثابته شوه، چې هغه عصري تګلارې، چې بزګران او بڼوالان له هغه سره اشنا شول، ډیر زیات اقتصادي اغیزمنتیا او مولدیت لري. دا برنامه د بڼوالي او مالداري سنتي طریقو له منځه وړلو او پر ځای یې د معاصرو او ننۍ منل شویو معیارونو پر بنسټ د کړنلارو ځای پر ځای کولو باندې تمرکز کوي. د بیلابیلو میوو د نیالګیو کینولو سره د نویو بڼونو د جوړولو طرحه په داسې ډول پلي شوه، چې د هغه لپاره بازارموندنه ډیره ساده وه او په عین حال کې د هر ولایت له جغرافیايي موقعیت، اوبو او هوا له شرایطو سره ورته والی ولري.

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