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Regional symposium to scale up nutrition integration in agricultural extension

In 2016, I got to know about the Integrating Gender and Nutrition in Agriculture Extension (INGENAES) through the workshop: Organizational Capacity Building Training for INGEAES partner NGOs which was held on 18th-21st July 2016 at the Shangri-la Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Attending this event opened YPARD Nepal’s door to support its initiative for developing a strong network among the NGOs working in Nepal. In fact, INGENAES is one of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - led Feed the Future initiative which is focusing on strengthening gender and nutrition integration within agricultural extension and advisory services.

Consequently YPARD Nepal and INGENAES kept in touch and together provided many opportunities for young professionals in their activities which are related to identifying the best practices on how to integrate nutrition into training, market development, and best media to Nepal. Recently, Abhishek Khadka and I were honored to participate in the Regional Symposium on Integrating Gender and Nutrition in Agriculture Extension, 7th-8th March 2017, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Regional Symposium on Integrating Gender and Nutrition

The symposium was jointly organized by INGENEAS and Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), and hosted by Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID). The main objective of the symposium was to identify opportunities for scaling out nutrition integration in agricultural extension. The title and the objective of the symposium itself was very entrancing and the factor of my interest to work on food and nutrition adds more to it.

Pre-symposium Highlights

On 6th March, the pre-symposium activity was first led by “Nutrition Olympiad 2017” where university level students from different parts of Bangladesh took part in the Hackathon. Those student - led nutritional clubs demonstrated their creativity of nutritious food and educational posters. In this Hackathon there was something very new to many of us, called “The Food Plate” which was a demo of balanced diet for pregnant women and was launched in the very occasion.

Highlights day-1

On 7th March, the formal session of symposium was inaugurated by Dr. Sue Lautze, Bangladesh FAO Bangladesh representative as Chief Guest, Md. Manzurul Hannan, Director General- Department of Agricultural Extension as Special Guest as well as Andrea Bohn, Associate Director- INGENAES as Keynote speaker. The Chief Guest highlighted the growing nutritional status of Bangladesh in recent years. I was more concerned on Andrea’s speech in which she flagged 3 determinants of nutrition status: food, health and care. She also stressed on increasing trend of taking off the gender lens in Bangladesh which showed to be a change agent in nutritional status in rural areas. The overall session was moderated by Andrea Bohn and Shahid Akbar, CEO of BIID.

Later, the symposium was followed by poster sessions and oral presentations, including “Shift and Share” a new approach of oral presentation in which presenters get 5-10 minutes to tell their story in a conversational way by focusing on KEY points only. On behalf of YPARD Nepal, Abhishek Khadka presented our activities on “Promoting Food and Nutritional Values among Nepalese Young Minds” during the Shift and Share presentation. The audience seemed to be very impressed with the work of YPARD and YPARD Nepal. The first day was also a good time to meet YPARD Bangladesh members: Jannatul Ferdous Shoma, Susmita Das, Papia Jahan, Arif Khan and Zahid Kamal who were also presenting at the session. Overall, the first day was full of informational presentations, exercises and “the pot show.”

Highlights day-2

The second day (8th March) of the symposium was quite with “World Women’s Day” celebration. Due to the special occasion INGENAES decided to mark the event in a different way, during the introductory session, we (event participants) were asked to approach and talk to someone unknown to us and tell them about the women in our life. There was also an inspirational speech by Luna Shamsuddoha, President of the Bangladesh Women in Technology who encouraged women to join ICTs to uplift the status of other women. She convinced women to break all the stereotypes and be the voice for themselves. The hall was filled with so many inspirational women and supportive men.

Apart from these activities, what I liked was the beautiful red flowers we received which symbolized beautiful yet bold women, encouraging every one of us to be a change maker. Later, our moderator- Andrea asked us to develop big, bold ideas for an innovate action that a key player in the pluralistic agricultural extension system should take to support for better nutrition outcomes among poor rural farming households. This was something which inspired us to brainstorm and come-up with different bold ideas. After sharing and discussions, the closing remarks were given by Andrea Bohn and Shahid Akbar, and the session ended with positive insights and commitments.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to extend my gratitude to INGENAES, especially- Andrea Bohn, Elizabeth A Poulsen and Kabita Devkota for offering this opportunity for two YPARD Nepal members. Also very special thanks to Dinesh Panday, YPARD Nepal representative for nominating us and Fardous MS Azam, YPARD Bangladesh representative for providing the opportunity to meet  YPARD Bangladesh members. 

Photo Credits: Nikita Bhusal

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