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Agriculture and Rural Development

Mexico’s National Forest Fire Management Program

Alfredo Nolasco Morales's picture

On November 1-3, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the World Bank organized a workshop in Delhi to discuss forest fire prevention and management.  The workshop brought together fire experts and practitioners from eight countries along with Indian government officials from the ministry and the state forest departments, as well as representatives from academia and civil society.  One of the participating countries, Mexico, has recently transformed its national policy on forest fires. Alfredo Nolasco Morales, Wildland Fire Protection Manager at Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) shared his insights on what this transformation has meant for Mexico, how it was achieved, and how it may serve as an inspiration for India as the Indian government prepares a new national action plan for forest fires.
 
Mexico’s forest fire program has operated for more than 70 years. On average, 7,500 fires occur each year, affecting 300,000 hectares of pasture, scrubland, forest, and regrowth. Recently, however, the country has experienced some especially bad years, including in 2017, when fires burned 715,714 hectares and killed 12 people. Extreme climatic conditions and the accumulation of fuels such as dry leaves, twigs, grasses, dead trees, and fallen timber have contributed to especially severe fire seasons.



Until 2012, Mexico’s national forest fire program focused on the complete suppression of fires by contracting helicopters to douse the flames. State forest fire programs were weak and there was little institutional coordination.

Exploding population: choice not destiny - capturing Pakistan’s demographic dividend

Inaam Ul Haq's picture

 

Blog in Urdu

Family planning in Pakistan
This blog is certainly not about exploding mangoes but about the exploding Pakistani populace. The recent reactions of surprise on results of the census seems bewildering. Pakistan’s population is now over 207 million with a growth rate of 2.4 percent per year since the last census in 1998. The results were predictable and expected, as Pakistan has not implemented any large-scale population related interventions for over a decade. We should not be expecting results because inaction does not usually deliver them.
 
Pakistan’s efforts to reduce fertility and population growth were transformed during the 1990s. The period between 1990-2006 saw effective policy making under the Social Action Program with multiple interventions e.g. expansion of public sector provision, large scale private sector participation including social marketing innovations, improving access to women through community based providers. All the right things that delivered huge results. Fertility declined from around seven to four children per woman, and contraceptives use increased from 10% to over 30% - a 300% increase. Appropriate actions delivered results and some still can be photocopied and expanded on scale for making progress.

The Canadian forest fire danger rating system

Brian Simpson's picture
On November 1-3, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the World Bank organized a workshop in Delhi to discuss forest fire prevention and management.  The workshop brought together fire experts and practitioners from eight countries along with Indian government officials from the ministry and the state forest departments, as well as representatives from academia and civil society. Brian Simpson, an analyst with the Canadian Forest Service, shares his perspective on how Canada developed its national fire danger rating system and how this system has helped in preventing, detecting and suppressing forest fires in that country. Canada's experience may serve as an inspiration as India continues to develop its own fire danger rating system, adapting it to local conditions and management needs.
 
Canada is a big country, with a lot of forest and a lot of water. Fires are common, and are concentrated in the boreal forest region, a band of forest that stretches around the whole northern hemisphere. On average, out of around 400 million ha of forest, about 8,000 fires and 2.5 million ha burn per year. And dozens of communities and tens of thousands of people need to be evacuated each year.
 
People are mostly concentrated along the southern border with the United States, where it’s warmer. A lot of the northern communities are actually indigenous, and many of them are only accessible by air or water. If there is a road, it’s the only road. These communities are often threatened by wildfires, and are frequently evacuated due to this threat.
 
Ultimately, Canada has three main problems with respect to wildland fire - prevention, detection, and suppression.  The Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) helps with each, though it’s only part of the solution. It helps with prevention by allowing fire managers to know where the risk of fires is higher. It helps with detection by giving fire managers a place and time to look for new fires. And it helps with suppression by providing some guidance about how the fire will behave. Beyond fire prevention, detection and suppression, CFFDRS helps with planning, response, risk assessment, smoke modelling, and even carbon emissions from these fires.
 Gts/Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: Gts/Shutterstock.com

With respect to wildland fire, the Government of Canada has a mandate to provide for the safety and security of Canadians, to protect critical infrastructure, to mitigate the effects of climate change, and to aid the implementation of other Sustainable Development Goals like reducing poverty and improving health. All are aided by the CFFDRS.

What are we doing to improve food security in Bhutan?

Abimbola Adubi's picture
Bhutan Food Security
The Food Security and Agricultural Productivity Project (FSAPP) will directly benefit approximately 10,400 households (52,000 people). Photo Credit: Abimbola Adubi

While Bhutan has seen immense growth along with impressive reductions in poverty, it remains a predominantly agriculture-based society, with the majority of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods. Most of the country’s arable land is cultivated by small farm holdings – an average size of 1.2 hectares – which produce most of the crop and livestock. However, despite importing 34% of its cereal needs, nearly one out of three Bhutanese suffer from food insecurity. Additionally, nearly 27 percent of Bhutanese households consume less than the daily minimum calorific requirement of 2,124 kcal, resulting in nearly 30 percent of the population facing malnourishment and related health issues such as stunting, or children that are too short for their age.  

To help improve the county’s agricultural productivity and better meet the nutrition needs of its people, we recently launched of the Food Security and Agricultural Productivity Project (FSAPP) with the government of Bhutan.  The project is designed to reduce the country’s reliance on food imports, help combat malnutrition in children, while improving agricultural productivity. It will assist farmers in five selected dzonkhags (districts) to diversify and enhance agriculture through better cultivation and sales and marketing of their products.

How could the project really be transformational for farmers in Bhutan?  The project builds on past efforts where the farmers were assisted with production inputs and equipment. It seeks to transform subsistence farming toward commercialization by boosting production and forging direct links to the market. The new project will also provide opportunities for the farmers to work together, form farming collectives, and create a unified voice to negotiate with agro-entrepreneurs for better terms for their goods.  

Five myths about water in Pakistan

William Young's picture



Persistent myths, which can misguide policy, are barriers to improving water security for the people of Pakistan. Here are five:

First, this problem of water security is often presented as one of water scarcity. But Pakistan is a water-rich country – only 35 countries have more renewable water. It is true that measured for each person, Pakistan is approaching a widely recognized scarcity level of 1000 cubic meters each year. But there are 32 countries that have less water for each person and most of these countries are much wealthier and use less water for each person. Pakistan needs to shift its focus from scarcity to managing water demand and producing more from each drop of water. It needs to make water allocation more efficient and fair, and offer incentives that reflect how scarce water is to encourage wise use.

আমার সন্তান যেন থাকে মাছে-ভাতে

Susmita Dasgupta's picture
 
A mother feeds her daughter in Bangladesh. Image courtesy: The World Bank


বাঙালির  চিরন্তন প্রার্থনা তার সন্তানের মুখে একটু মাছ তুলে দেয়া।  প্রকৃতির দাক্ষিণ্যে বাংলাদেশে ধান, ফল, আর মাছের অভাব ছিল না।  তাই বাঙালির  সহজাত জ্ঞান ছিল যে মাছ সুপ্রাপ্য, মাছ সুস্বাধু , মাছ পুষ্টি দায়ক আর শিশুর জন্য মাছ পরিপূর্ণ খাবার। মাছ বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র ছিল সহজলভ্য। নানা ধরণের মাছ, ছোট মাছ  অনেকটা যেন নিজে ধরা দিতো, মাছ আর কেবল শুধুমাত্র ভালো আর পুষ্টিকর খাবার থাকেনি, বাঙালীর ভালোবাসা আর গর্বের বিষয় হয়েছে। বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র, অধিকাংশ পরিবারে মাছ সামাজিকতার অঙ্গ হয়েছে, আত্মীয়জন মাছ পরিবেশন না করলে মনক্ষুন্ন হয়েছে।  সব বাঙালিই ছোট বয়সে উপদেশ শুনেছে “মাছ খাও না হলে বড় হবে না” “মাছ খাও, মাথায় বুদ্ধি হবে” বা “এই মাছ খাও, পরীক্ষার ফল ভালো হবে” ।

আজকাল কিন্তু আর মাছ নিয়ে অত কথা শুনতে পাওয়া যায় না।  অবশ্যই এ বছর ইলিশ বেশি না কম হলো, এবার রপ্তানি হবে না আমদানি হবে; এরকম খবর দুচারটি খবরের কাগজে ছাপে।  কারণ এগুলো সব দামি মাছ। খবর গুলো হয়তো মাছ নিয়ে নয়, মাছের দাম নিয়ে। ঢাকা অথবা অন্যান্য শহরাঞ্চলে নতুন দারুণ খাবারের দোকান হয়েছে; দেশিবিদেশী নানাবিধ আয়োজনের খাবার পাওয়া যায়।  কিন্তু একটু ভালো মাছ-ভাত কোথায় পাওয়া যাবে, খুঁজতে হলে অনেকদিন অনেক পথে হাটঁতে হবে। যারা শহুরে  মধ্যবিত্ত, অথবা গ্রামাঞ্চলে উচ্চবিত্ত, তাদের অনেকের বাড়িতে বাচ্চারা দামি খাবার খায়, কিন্তু মাছ খাবে না।

অথচ বাংলাদেশের অসংখ্য শিশু অপুষ্টির শিকার। সরকার আর ইউনিসেফের নতুন রিপোর্ট " প্রগতির পথে বিবরণী " জানিয়েছে যে, পরিসংখ্যান মতে ৩০-৪০ শতাংশ শিশু এদেশে অপুষ্টিতে ভুগছে। কেবল গরিবের সন্তান নয়, মধ্যবিত্ত পরিবারের ছেলে মেয়েরাও প্রয়োজনীয় পুষ্টিকর খাবার আর পরিপালনের বাইরে। প্রশ্ন জাগে, চিরন্তন বিশ্বাস যে মাছ শিশুদের পুষ্টি যোগায়, তার থেকে আমরা দূরে সরে যাচ্ছি না তো? শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের সাথে জড়িত মায়েদের স্বাস্থ্য। মায়েরা মাছ খাচ্ছেন তো? এই সব ভাবনা চিন্তা নিয়ে বিশ্বব্যাংকের নতুন একটা গবেষণা প্রকাশিত হলো সম্প্রতি। বাংলাদেশে সামাজিক অর্থনৈতিক প্রসঙ্গে মাছ খাওয়া ও শিশু স্বাস্থ্য (The Socioeconomics of Fish Consumption and Child Health in Bangladesh)।

 বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব জনসংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক ও স্বাস্থ্য জরিপ (Demographic Health Survey) প্রায় প্রতি চার বছর পর হয়। এরকম ৫ টি জরিপের ( ২০০০, ২০০৪, ২০০৭, ২০১১ এবং ২০১৪ সাল) মোট ৩৬৪৯১ টি বর্ণনার সংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক প্রতিলিপি (statistical regression) বিশ্লেষণ করা হয়েছে বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণায়।  জানা যাচ্ছে যে, দেশের উন্নতির সাথে শিশু মৃত্যুর সংখ্যা কমেছে। পরিবারের আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে শিশুর খাদ্য তালিকায় সর্ব মোট মাছ , মাংস আর  ডিমের অনুপাত বেড়েছে নজর কাড়ার মতো। কিন্তু আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে মাছের  অনুপাত শিশুর খাদ্যে প্রত্যাশিত সমানুপাতে বাড়েনি।

গবেষণায় একটি অপ্রত্যাশিত ফল হলো যে পরিবারের প্রধানত: মায়েদের উচ্চশিক্ষার সাথে মাছ খাওয়ানোর প্রবণতা কমেছে। সব মিলিয়ে ডিম ও মাংসের তুলনায় বেশি পুষ্টিকর, উপকারী ও সস্তা হওয়া সত্ত্বেও, পারিবারিক ও আর্থিক সাচ্ছল্যের সাথে শিশুর খাবারে মাছের অনুপাত কমেছে। 

গবেষণাটি দেখিয়েছে যে, শিশু জন্মের আগে ও পরে মায়েরা একটু বেশি মাছ খেলে জন্মের প্রথম বছরে শিশুর মৃত্যুর আশংকা কমে যায়, আর জ্বর, কাশি, পেটের অসুখেও অপেক্ষেকৃত কম ভোগে শিশুরা।  বর্ষাকালে ও বর্ষার ঠিক পরে মাছ যখন সুলভ আর সহজপ্রাপ্য, তখন নিতান্ত নিম্নবিত্ত পরিবারের খাবারের তালিকায় অনুপাতে একটু বেশি হলেও স্থান পায় মাছ। ধারণা করা হচ্ছে এই সময়ে মায়েরাও মাছ খান। ফলত : বর্ষা অথবা তার একটু পরে সদ্যজাত বাচ্চাদের রোগ প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতা বাড়ে এবং মৃত্যুহার কমে।  আর এর  উল্টো ঘটনা  ঘটে শুকনা মৌসুমে, যখন মাছ অতটা সহজ প্রাপ্য ও সুলভ হয় না। এবং মাছ খাওয়া কমে যায়।  সদ্যজাত শিশুদের রোগ বাড়ে, মৃত্যু হার বাড়ে।

বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণার ফলাফল যেন কিছুটা ভুলে যাওয়া ঐতিহ্য মনে করিয়ে দেবার প্রচেষ্টা। শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের খাতিরে মাছের যোগান বাড়াতে হবে। বিশেষত: শিক্ষিত মায়েদের মাতৃ মঙ্গল শিক্ষায় জানাতে হবে মাছ খাওয়া কত প্রয়োজন। কেবল শিশুর খাবার নয়, অন্তঃসত্ত্বা মায়েদের বছর ধরে খেতে হবে আরো একটু বেশী মাছ। গবেষণাটি আশা করে যে শিশুর অপুষ্টির অন্যতম সমাধান হবে বাঙ্গালীর চির পরিচিত মাছে ভাতে। আর ভাবতে ভালো লাগে যে সবার প্রার্থনা যেন হয়, কেবল সন্তান নয়, জননীরাও যেন সবাই থাকেন মাছে - ভাতে। 

 
ডেভিড হুইলার , সুস্মিতা দাশগুপ্ত, তাপস পাল , গোলাম মোস্তফা      

From potato eaters to world leaders in agriculture

Priti Kumar's picture
 Raj Ganguly
Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands (pop: 17 millions; about the size of Haryana state in India) today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Photo credit: Raj Ganguly

Van Gogh’s famous painting of Potato Eaters depicts a family of poor peasants seated around a dinner table eating their staple fare. The artist confessed that this work is deeply reflective of the hard work that Dutch peasants have to do to earn a bare meal. Van Gogh frequently painted the harvest and often compared the season to his own art, and how he would someday reap all that he had put into it. 

Since those difficult times in the late 1800s, the tiny country of the Netherlands (pop: 17 mill; about the size of Haryana state in India) has come a long way. Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Indeed, this small nation is now the world’s second-largest exporter of agri-food products including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, meat, milk and eggs; some 6% of world trade in fruits and 16% in vegetables comes from the Netherlands.

But how exactly did they do this? In October 2017, we went to find out. Our team - of World Bank and Indian government officials working on agribusiness, rural transformation and watershed development projects – sought to learn from Dutch experience and identify opportunities for future collaboration. We met farmer cooperatives, private companies, growers’ associations, academia, social enterprises, and government agencies, and gained fascinating insights.

Primarily, we found that a convenient location, a conducive climate, investments in high-quality infrastructure, high-caliber human capital, an enabling business environment and professionally-run private companies have provided the Netherlands with that unmistakable competitive edge:

Maximizing agricultural output with minimum land and labor

Located conveniently as a gateway to Europe, the Netherlands acts as a transit hub for agricultural produce, importing Euro 4.6 billion worth of produce from 107 countries, adding value to these products through collection, re(packaging) and processing, and exporting almost double that value - Euro 7.9 billion - to more than 150 nations. In 2014, Dutch growers had a turn-over of euro 2.9 billion in fruit and vegetables, produced with a minimum of land and labor - only 55,000 hectares and just 40,000 people - indicating a heavy reliance on automation.

Spotting fires from space helps India’s foresters

E. Vikram's picture
 Vikas Gusain (April 2017)
Almost all fires in India are set by people intentionally or unintentionally. Ground fire in Chir Pine forests in Gumkhal, Pauri Garwal District, Uttarakhand, India. Credit: Vikas Gusain (April 2017)

The three-day international workshop on forest fires organized by the World Bank and the Forest Ministry of India is a watershed event in the management of forest fires in the country (1-3rd November 2017). On the first day, discussions were held on the latest technology being used to alert foresters to fires.

Almost all fires in India are set by people intentionally or unintentionally. For instance, forest-dependent communities in central India burn the forest floor to encourage the growth of tender tendu leaves, and to collect mahua flowers which standout easily on the charred forest floor.

In the northeast and some parts of central India, forests are rotationally burnt to ashes to enrich the soil for agriculture. After a few seasons of cropping, the depleted area is left to nature and the trees grow back once again. In the western Himalayas, pine needles are cleared every year to encourage the growth of grass for cattle-fodder. When pine needles full of resin pile up year after year, it takes just one spark from a careless smoker to burn down an entire forest of enormous value.

In remote areas, forest fires may not be detected for hours or even days, leading to an irreversible loss of forest wealth. Like any other hazard, the earlier one gets to know about the outbreak, the better it is for both the authorities and the people. Since traditional ways of gathering information from people perched on watch towers are not very effective, satellite sensors that can detect heat and smoke from space have now come to the rescue of foresters across the country.   

Today, the Forest Survey of India, in partnership with the National Remote Sensing Centre, uses these satellite detections to alert foresters across the country about the exact location of forest fires. All steps in the detection and dissemination process have been fully automated – including the processing of satellite data, filtering out fires that burn outside forests, composing personalized SMSs to relevant people, as well as sending them across. This system has helped fire alerts to reach people within 45 minutes to 1 hour of detection, enabling foresters to reach the spot quickly and contain the damage.

Tackling India’s hidden hunger

Edward W. Bresnyan's picture
India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)
With India’s rapidly growing dairy industry, large-scale milk fortification of Vitamins A and D is a robust vehicle for increasing micronutrients intake across the population. Credit: India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)  
Micronutrient deficiencies, especially Vitamin A and D, are prevalent in India. 
 
Yet, these deficiencies -- often referred to as ‘hidden hunger’ -- go largely unnoticed and affect large populations.
 
Night blindness, a condition afflicting millions of pregnant women and children, stems from low intake of foods rich in essential nutrients like Vitamin A.
 
Budget constraints limit access to nutrient-rich foods for many families, who are unaware or unable to afford a nutritious diet.
 
National programs help supplement diets with Iron and Vitamin, but their scope is too narrow to adequately address these deficiencies.
 
 India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)  
Food fortification is a relatively simple, powerful and cost-effective approach to curb micronutrient deficiencies. It is in general socially accepted and requires minimal change in existing food habits. Credit: Credit: India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)


Fortified Milk Helps Increase Vitamins Intake
 
When fortified with vitamin A and D, milk, which remains a staple for many Indians, can help alleviate dietary deficiencies when supplementation is not available.

Food fortification is a relatively simple, powerful and cost-effective approach to curb micronutrient deficiencies. It is in general socially accepted and requires minimal change in existing food habits.

The process is inexpensive and costs about 2 paisa per liter or about one-tenth of a cent.  And because it only adds a fraction of daily recommended nutrients, the process is considered safe.

For these reasons, food fortification has been successfully scaled up in some emerging economies.

However, except for salt fortification with iodine, India has not yet achieved large-scale food fortification. 

With India’s rapidly growing dairy industry, large-scale milk fortification of Vitamins A and D is a robust vehicle for increasing micronutrients intake across the population.

Share your views on Sri Lanka’s Vision to End Poverty: The Road to 2025

Mariam Yousef's picture


October 17, 2017
– Today marks the 25th anniversary of the United National declaration of the International Day to End Extreme Poverty. Compared to many other countries in the world, Sri Lanka has done well in ending extreme poverty. Between 2002 and 2012, extreme poverty in Sri Lanka decreased from 8.3% to 1.9% while the national poverty level fell from 22% to 6.7% during the same period. Read the latest poverty brief and the two-part series on understanding poverty in Sri Lanka to learn more.

The big picture of poverty in Sri Lanka may be different when we zoom in on individuals and communities. In order to understand individual perspectives and opinions, this year we have opened up an opportunity for Sri Lankans to share their views on Sri Lanka’s Vision to End Poverty. We welcome your views in the form of a short blog post on why you believe #itspossible to end poverty in Sri Lanka. Below are some questions to get you thinking. You need not capture all of them, or be restricted to answering just these questions, but we are interested in hearing from you on these themes. 
  • Do you feel that you have more opportunities than your parents did at your age? Why or why not?
  • How could more openings be created for you and your peers?
  • Do you believe that the future will provide more prospects than the present?
  • What are you most excited about and most discouraged by in terms of available opportunities in Sri Lanka?
  • Do you think it is possible to end poverty in Sri Lanka? As individuals, can we contribute to making this goal a reality?
  • How do you think the reforms listed in Vision 2025 can contribute to ending poverty in Sri Lanka?
How it works:
  • All participants must be registered with us through the online form available here. Follow the submission instructions detailed there.
  • You will be requested to provide a short biography and profile picture which will become your profile, and accessible from the article(s) you write if selected by the panel of editors.

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