YPARD Bangladesh initiates Agriculture for Nutrition (Ag4N) network

08 Jun 2017 by Susmita Das

Nutrition and food security copupled with the growing global concern of sustainable agriculture have became the global challenge.

To attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), malnutrition is thought to be the major hindrance. However, Bangladesh is trying to put priority into action on food and nutritional security and government and other NGOs and private organizations have through projects tried  to address this issue.In line with this, Bangladesh chapter of YPARD (YPARD Bangladesh) feels that it is necessary to work together on nutrition-sensitive agriculture involving young professionals and youthful minds across the country.

YPARD Bangladesh with the support from INGENAES, (Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services), a USAID funded project, is taking up the initiative to establish a National Network on Agriculture for Nutrition (Ag4N) for the scientists, experts, researchers, students and young professionals who are working on nutrition-based agriculture in the country. This platform would be helping in networking and sharing information and knowledge that might be a great support for identifying the challenges of food and nutritional security in the country and developing sustainable solutions for it as well. Moreover, this networking community would be a focal platform for cooperating national development activities through participation in policy level dialogues while providing an opportunity for youth to contribute with innovative ideas.

“I am happy to see young people from Bangladesh roaming here to contribute in developing the agriculture sector of the country as well as showing their commitment for establishing agriculture for nutrition (Ag4N) platform in Bangladesh. I hope YPARD Bangladesh will continue to encourage these youthful minds to fasten their proactive activities to ensure nutrition and food security of the country to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs). If there is any need for any support from my side I am ready to contribute. I will also be happy to sponsor a prize for any competition organized by YPARD.”- Mrs. Andrea Bohn, Associated Director of INGENAES- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign program was in consensus with YPARD motto for Ag4N.

On 20th May 2017, at She-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) in Dhaka, participants of the YPARD-INGENAES Workshop gathered with the aim of setting up agriculture for nutrition (Ag4N) platform in Bangladesh where they had presented their ideas and vision. In the workshop, Mr. Shahid Uddin Akbar, Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) delivered an introductory speech and was followed by a presentation about the background, mission and vision of YPARD by myself  Dr. Susmita Das, Senior Documentation Officer, Bangladesh Agriculture Council (BARC). During the presentation, I asserted that as a YPARD member I was looking forward to do more work that could helpful for addressing SDGs and urged all the participants to register themselves as YPARD members as well as invited them to actively participate and get involved in national and global activities. The chief facilitator Andrea B. Bohn, member of the AgReach Team and Associated Director of INGENAES- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign program conducted the main session of the workshop focusing on PURPOSE of the P2P cycle (Purpose, principles, participants, structure and practices) to generate ideas and goals for future perspectives and finding ways to reach the vision of this network to work as Think Tank.

Mr. F.M. Safiul Azam, Country Representative of YPARD (Bangladesh) coordinated the workshop and took up the challenge to increase YPARD membership from Bangladesh to 2017 by the end of this year 2017.

One of the country's leading research organizations, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) was also represented by  Mr. Md. Maksudul Haque who said that he was lucky to had the chance to attend this knowledge sharing workshop and join the YPARD platform. He added that there is need for more platforms like this in Bangladesh. He would encourage his colleagues from BRRI to join this platform.

The BIID team member Ms. Sumaiya Nour, and Md. Arif Khan, Mustak Ahmed, Papia Jahan, Mahbubur  Rahman, Core-team members of YPARD Bangladesh have given effort for the successful organization of the workshop in which professionals from National Agricultural Research System (NARS) and Bangladesh Agricultural University, She-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Department of Agricultural Extension and  from other private, NGOs, institutes/universities had participated, which is in total twenty five persons.

The suggestions from the workshop are as follows:

  1. Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Dissemination, Knowledge Updating, Knowledge Conservation by the network.
  2. Recognition of best activists from young professionals.
  3. Inter-university competition to showcase ideas and accomplishments.
  4. Promotion of the platform through social media and other communications
  5. Increase participation by individual channels.
  6. Establish university based hubs and make linkages.
  7. A network of YPARD units can be created within different organizations/institutions
  8. Provide publication opportunities.
  9. Organize workshops, conferences, trainings
  10. Creating cross-cutting research opportunities
  11. Provide access to contents to users &  publication opportunities
  12. Youth leadership development programs
  13. Discussion forums with young students & professionals
  14. The framework to build this network and the structure, principles and organogram were also proposed and discussed by the participants

Last but not least, “I am happy to host and attend such a wonderful and fruitful workshop in our university premises. There is more need of such programmes which can involve more youths and help them to improve their professional skills. I hope that YPARD Bangladesh will organize such events more and more in future and we will welcome them to our campus to arrange these kind of programs in our university” stated by Dr. Sekander Ali, the Pro-vice Chancellor of She-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU)who has delighted the program by his presence in the closing ceremony.

 Dr. Susmita Das is a senior documentation officer, Bangladesh Agriculture Council (BARC).