About the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity:

The USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension Project) is a key part of Bangladesh Feed the Future (FtF) initiative and first project to be awarded to a national NGO under the USAID Forward “Local Systems Framework”.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) is the lead implementation agency for the five-year project, with CARE Bangladesh and mPower serving as technical partners. The project began on October 23, 2012 and is scheduled to end on October 22, 2017.

The project aims to enhance access to and utilization of agricultural (ag) extension services by smallholder farmers – both men and women. It is working for building capacities and creating supports to a farmer demand-driven agricultural extension system, synergized by the use of information communication technology (ICT). It helps to foster a farmer demand-driven extension service system and also helps improving access to quality ag inputs and markets along with access to finance.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM):
DAM-logoDhaka Ahsania Mission is a non-government development organization founded by Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah, an eminent educationist, reformer and Sufi. The founding motto of DAM is ‘Divine and humanitarian service’. It functions since 1958 pursuing the aims of social and spiritual development of entire human community.
CARE BANGLADESH:
care-logoCARE is a leading international humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and injustice, with a special focus on working with women and girls. Founded in 1949, CARE Bangladesh is one of CARE’s oldest and largest country offices.Placing women and girls at the centre of our work enables us to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequity in Bangladesh. Reaching millions of beneficiaries, we strengthen marginalized, excluded and extremely poor communities in rural and urban areas, building their resilience to shocks and amplifying their voices to create lasting change.We work over 100 partners in government, civil society and the private sector to improve livelihoods and household security, health and hygiene, nutrition and governance, foster small enterprise, reduce disaster and climate risk, and respond in emergencies.

For more information please visit: http://www.carebangladesh.org/

mPOWER:
M-power-logomPower is a social enterprise founded by graduate students of Harvard University and MIT in 2008. With the aim to change the paradigm of social good with the power of great design, information and technology, we began our journey in Egypt, and soon spread to other countries in Africa, before our center of gravity shifted to Bangladesh in 2010.

For more information please visit: https://www.mpower-social.com/

Project goal:

The goal of the Project is to “Strengthen the existing agriculture extension system in southwest and central Bangladesh to sustainably improve food security and nutrition for smallholder farmers”.

The three components of the project:

Component 1: Enhance access to, and utilization of, agricultural extension services by smallholder farmers (both men and women).

Component 2: Expand and strengthen ICT mechanisms to increase access to agricultural market information, knowledge and technologies.

Component 3: Strengthen capacity of agricultural extension service agents (public and private) to proactively respond to the needs of smallholder farmers, with an emphasis on women.

Project coverage (no. of project beneficiaries):
  • 110,000 farmers
  • 4,000 Farmer Producer Groups (FPGs)
  • 1,000 Extension Agents
Project approaches:
  • Enables smallholder farmers to better access for extension services, ag inputs and ag markets using a “collective action” approach by organizing them into farmer producer groups (FPGs) with each FPG focused on one of six value chains;
  • Introduces information and communications technology (ICT) application and approaches to make ag information available in new ways to extension agents and farmers;
  • Builds the capacity of extension agents, both public and private, to deliver improved extension services;
  • Provides demonstrations of improved ag extension service delivery by supporting 139 Ag Extension Service Centers (AESCs) in 4 upazilas, each serving as a “one-stop shop” for farmers seeking advice and assistance.
Project at a glance:

Project duration: 5 (five years); from October 2012 to October 2017

Financial partners (Donor): USAID

Lead implementing organization: Dhaka Ahsania Mission

Technical partners: CARE Bangladesh and mPower

Project working areas:

The project is working in 12 districts of 3 regions in central and southwest Bangladesh. The three regions are: Jessore, Khulna, and Barisal.

Regions Districts
Jessore Jessore, Magura, Faridpur, Rajbari
Khulna Khulna, Satkhira, Narail
Barisal Barisal, Bhola, Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali
The six value chains of the project:
i) Jute ii) Mung bean
iii) Chili iv) Dairy
v) Beef fattening vi) Fish
Project supported beneficiaries and stakeholders
Regions 3
Districts 12
Upazilas 26
Producer Groups 4,000
Farmers 110,000
Extension Agents 1,000
Ag Extension Service Centers (AESCs) 139
Farmer Producer Group:
DSC01434

The project has formed and supports approximately 4,000 Farmer Producer Groups (FPGs) to collectively access extension services including required inputs, access to finance and markets. Through FPGs the project is supporting public and private extension agents to reach more farmers more efficiently.

These FPGs:

  • give smallholder farmers a collective voice
  • can collectively demand extension services, required inputs, access to finance and markets
  • enable public and private extension agents to reach more farmers more efficiently
  • demonstrate the power of collective action
Ag Extension Service Center:
AESC-1024x768In collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the project aims to demonstrate improved agricultural extension service delivery by establishing and supporting a network of 139 Ag Extension Service Centers in 4 selected demonstration upazilas. The AESCs offer farmers the option to seek out and receive extension services and ag information at their convenience from a known, central location. The project will support DAE to adopt learning from the AESCs to other upazilas. The four demo upazilas are:

  • Barisal Sadar, Barisal
  • Faridpur Sadar, Faridpur
  • Chougacha, Jessore
  • Kalia, Narail
ICT:
The overall aim of the ICT component is to provide easy access to up-to-date technical information on improved farming practices that already exists, but has been unavailable to those who needs it. The project is developing a variety of e-ag apps and tools that will be introduced and systematically embedded into existing ag extension services to be made available to farmers and various agricultural stakeholders. ICT tools are also being developed to support information and service management functions at DAE and AIS.Project has developed nine mobile application for farmer and agriculture extension agent.The applications are
I. Farmer Query System
II. Crop Diagnostic
III. Seed Variety Recommendation
IV. Fish Diagnostic
V. Livestock Management System
VI. Digital Diary
VII. SAAO Scheduling
VIII. Crop Statistics
IX. Area Information
Partnership:
  • Collaboration with the Agriculture Information Service (AIS)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Agriculture Information Service (AIS) and the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension Project) at CBC Auditorium, Mohammadpur, Dhaka, on January 7, 2015. Although, the project has been collaborating and consulting with AIS since the first year of the project, the signed MoU will allow the project to channelize formal assistance to AIS in a number of areas. The MoU describes specific responsibilities that each party will adhere to in support of mutually-beneficial initiatives leading to strengthening and expanding extension services to smallholder farmers. Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, AIS, DAE and the project were present at the ceremony. Mr. Abdur Rouf, Joint Secretary of MoA was the Chief Guest while Dr. M. Ehsanur Rahman, Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) was present as Special Guest. Kbd. Sayed Khurshed Zafri, Director of Agriculture Information Service (AIS) and Dr. Ehsanur Rahman of DAM signed the MoU on behalf of respective organizations.

  • MoU signed between the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension Project)

The “Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE)” and the “USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension Project)”, signed a MoU on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at DAE’s Conference Room in Khamarbari, Farmgate, Dhaka. The objectives of the MoU are to strengthen the existing capacity of DAE to deliver effective, innovative and value chain-based extension services, and to provide enhanced support to smallholder farmers – both men and women – in southwest Bangladesh and also to promote communication and collaboration between the two organizations.

As one of the cornerstone activities proposed for implementation under the MoU, DAE and the Ag Extension Project will demonstrate an improved demand-driven ag extension service delivery model in four upazilas: Barisal Sadar, Faridpur Sadar, Chowgacha (Jessore) and Kalia (Narail).

As part of this initiative, the project will provide support for approximately 120 Sub-Assistant Agricultural Officers (SAAOs) in these four upazilas to establish a block-level extension center equipped with basic technical resource materials, field equipment, office supplies and ICT devices. The centers will provide a base of operations at the block level for SAAOs from which farmers and other stakeholders can come to seek information and advice. Armed with smart phones and given updated training in a number of technical areas, it is hoped that the SAAOs will convert these ag extension centers into true “one-stop” information-sharing hubs for farmers, extension agents and private sector service providers.

Mr. Sunil Chandra Dhar, Director, Horticulture Wing and other senior officials of the DAE were present at the MoU signing ceremony. The Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), Dr. M. Ehsanur Rahman, Anowarul Haq, Director, ERPP of CARE Bangladesh and Hasib Ahsan, Senior Program and Research Manager at mPower, along with other Ag Extension Project representatives were present at the event. At the conclusion of the event, Mr. Sunil Chandra Dhar and Mr. Shoeb Uddin Ahmed, Deputy Chief of Party of the Ag Extension Project, exchanged copies of the signed MoU.

  • The Ag Extension Project collaborates with Practical Action for strengthening capacity of the Krishi Call Center

mouA Service Contract (SC) was signed between the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension Project) and the Practical Action at the Ag Extension Project’s Head Office at Dhaka on November 12, 2015.

The Krishi Call Center (16123) was established in 2011-2012 and currently operates out of the Agriculture Information Service (AIS) premises in Khamarbari, Dhaka. It has been successfully supporting farmers (crop, livestock and fish), entrepreneurs and other associated clients over last 3-4 years. Aiming to provide no cost and low cost information service, the Center so far has reached around 64,000 clients throughout the country since its inception. The center was a joint initiative of Practical Action (a UK-based INGO) and AIS under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The SC between the Ag Extension Project and Practical Action is initiated to address mainly the following operational aspects:

• Expanding the client base and improving the center’s capacity to effectively respond to customer calls by complementing 2 new operators along with the existing pool, procuring needed ICT hardware and by strengthening gender sensitive operation of the call center to give more access to agricultural information to the women clients;
• Improving mobile-based voice content delivery via the call center/ AIS and initiating business model approach for long term sustainability.

This Service Contract (SC) is expressed mutual acceptance between the two parties to strengthen agricultural knowledge information management and operation of the Krishi Cal Center managed by the Agriculture Information Service (AIS) and Practical Action Bangladesh (PAB).

Mr. Bidyuth K. Mahalder, Chief of Party, USAID Ag Extension Project and Ms. Hasin Jahan, Country Director, practical Action, Bangladesh signed the Service Contract from the respective parts. Senior employees of the Project and Practical Action were present at the signing of the Service Contract. Dr. M. Ehsanur Rahman, Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) was also present at the event. The contract will be effective from December 1, 2015.