The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is the largest extension service provider in Bangladesh and the USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity (Ag Extension project) works in 12 targeted FtF (Feed the Future) program districts in southwest and central Bangladesh to sustainably improve the food security and nutrition of the smallholder farmers. The goal of the project is to strengthen the existing agriculture extension system by meeting demand driven extension delivery system in order to provide enhanced support to both the men and women farmers.

Accordingly, the project works to strengthen the existing capacity of DAE field level officials and the Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers (SAAOs) to deliver effective, innovative and value chain-based extension services. Also to enhance their capacities, the project, jointly with the DAE conducted a training need assessment (TNA). Based on the outcome of the assessment, a five day long capacity building training program was organized which is known as “Professional Skill Development Training for SAAOs”. The training was a unique one as it is the first time any national NGO collaborated with a government body.

A training manual: “Professional Skill Development Training Manual for SAAOs” was published as a learning material of this training which was unwrapped during a publication ceremony held on December 6, 2016 at a local hotel premise in Banani, Dhaka.

A total of 529 SAAOs participated at the training. The participants learned about modern technologies of different crop production as well as other issues like: information communication technology (ICT), climate change, value chain, nutrition, gender, group formation, facilitation, and so on. It is expected that these training programs will enhance the skills of SAAOs in delivering extension services to the farmers at field levels.

Kbd. Mr. Md. Hamidur Rahman, Director General (DG), DAE, Khamarbari, Dhaka graced the event as the Chief Guest while Kbd. Mr. Chaitanya Kumar Das, Director, Field Service Wing (FSW) attended as special guest. Among other guests of honors, Kbd. Mr. Md. Bashir Uddin, Director, Planning, Project Implementation & ICT wing, Kbd. Mr. Md. Zakir Hossain, Deputy Director (PI&E), DAE and project focal person, AESA-DAE and Kbd. Mr. Saiful Islam, Deputy Director, FSW, DAE were present at the occasion. Dr. Khawaja Samsul Huda, Director Program, Dhaka Ahsania Mission chaired the event.

Appreciating the training events, the guests at the unwrapping ceremony hoped that the acquired knowledge from this manual will be an asset to the SAAOs who will be able to deliver their learning more effectively at the field level. The participants also hoped that other organizations and people will also be interested and be benefited through the contents of the manual.

Mr. Bidyuth K. Mahalder, the Chief of Party of the Ag Extension Project, Mr. Gias Uddin Talukder, Senior Team Leader, Shamoshti, CARE Bangladesh, along with other representatives of the project were also present at the event.

Ms. Tania Sharmin, National Technical Coordinator, AESA-CARE showed a presentation on the joint activities of DAE followed by a video on A-Card which is a new initiative of the project to help smallholder farmers to have financial access through private sector banking.