Together with Salt Farm Texel, ICCO will train 5,000 farmers in the coastal areas of Bangladesh to start growing salt tolerant crops. These are natural varieties of crops that do grow on saline soil. The contribution from the National Postcode Lottery enables these farmers to make their salt-affected land productive again by growing saline tolerant crops. This will improve their food security as well as their income.
Worldwide less and less land is available for agriculture. One of the reasons is salinization, the increase of the salt concentration in the soil. This can have different causes, like flooding by the sea or by saline water rising through the soil. As a result, crops no longer grow on the land and it is no longer suitable for agriculture. Salinization Unfortunately salinization is a growing problem all around the world. Research of the United Nations University shows that 62 million hectares of agricultural land has already been affected by salt. That is over 18 times the size of The Netherlands. And this area continues to increase. Per day an average of another 2,000 hectare of agricultural land is lost by salinization. That is often in countries where there is already a food shortage, but worldwide too, salt poses a threat to the growing demand for food. In Bangladesh salinization is also a serious problem, especially in the coastal areas. The people who live in this area are poor to very poor. They largely depend on small scale agriculture to survive. But because of increasing salinization of the soil this is becoming harder and harder. And according to the World Bank this will become even worse over the coming decades. As a result people are no longer capable of feeding their families. They have no income and are forced to migrate to the cities, where they end up in slums or on the street. Solution for soil salinization As a solution for soil salinization, efforts so far have been mainly aimed at reducing salt concentrations in the soil. But the means used for that are expensive and damage the soil and the crops. Apart from that, their effects are short-lived. This innovative project turns this growing problem into a sustainable solution. Instead of fighting the salt in the soil, we want salt affected soil to be able to be used for agriculture again. That is possible by introducing varieties of well-known crops that do grow on salt affected land. This way, degraded soil becomes productive once again. And that offers new opportunities Funding and beneficiaries The Salt Solution project is funded by the National Postcode Lottery, Netherlands. ICCO Cooperation Bangladesh is lead partner and SFT is technical implementer and CODEC is implementing. Direct beneficiaries are 5000 small holder farmers and indirect beneficiaries are 25,000 small holder farmers. The project is working in 8 upazilas of 4 districts in saline affected coastal area of Bangladesh.
Together with Salt Farm Texel, ICCO will train 5,000 farmers in the coastal areas of Bangladesh to start growing salt tolerant crops. These are natural varieties of crops that dó grow on saline soil.
Poor vulnerable farming families in coastal areas. Direct beneficiaries 5000 small scale farmers. Indirect project will reach 30,000 small scale farmers.
ICCO aims to achieve a lasting improvement for the farmers with this project. Therefore it is crucial to take into account right from the conception of the project, from the start and in every next step, the sustainability of the results after the project has formally finished. Over 50 years of experience in development co-operation has taught us that initiatives are only sustainable if they are locally embedded and supported by the local population itself. That means that the effect of gifts and subsidies is limited in practice. All too often it can be seen that as soon as the project is finished and the subsidy stops, the activities are not (able to be) continued either. Apart from this, subsidies can distort the market. For that reason the farmers in this project do not receive the seeds, fertilizers and other necessary inputs for saline agriculture for free. We do ensure that they are able to purchase them themselves. And for those purchases the farmers do not depend on the project. During the project the farmers already get access to special loans through existing institutions to be able to invest in the necessary inputs for saline agriculture. On average these loans can already be repaid after one season. In that way the farmers do depend not on the project and will be able to continue to cultivate saline vegetables also after the project has finished. To ensure that the activities continue also after the project is finished, they will be embedded in existing economic structures from the beginning. ICCO has extensive experience in building and strengthening sustainable value chains, in which small scale farmers are an equal party. In this project investments are made in the strengthening of local sales channels. These are both the sellers of the seeds, fertilizers and soil improvers necessary (input), and market parties that buy the harvest (output). By training these companies themselves, they are able to provide good services and technical support to the farmers. In this way a traditional trade channel will remain also after the project finishes, that works through the market mechanism of demand and supply. Furthermore, the project will invest in the farmersâ€™ capacities. By improving their technical skills, but also their marketing and business skills, they will be better able to successfully practice saline agriculture. Apart from this, in the project the foundation has been laid for better co-operation between the farmers, companies and service providers from the government. As a member of a farmersâ€™ group they are less vulnerable and have a stronger position in negotiations with this kind of parties. The relations that have been established with them will enable the farmers to continue the activities in the same way also after the project has finished. The successful results of these farmers will undoubtedly be followed by others. In doing so, they will be able to use the knowledge, the services and links built up that the chain for saline vegetables offers. And because the necessary inputs for the salt tolerant crops will be made available locally through the service providers, saline agriculture will no longer depend on this project after the first introduction.
The aim of this project is therefore to increase the food production of vulnerable farming families in Bangladesh by introducing salt tolerant crops, to enhance their food security and income./ Improved food and nutrition security of saline affected small holding farmers in coastal belt of Bangladesh.