Yunus Ali received Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 2017

16 Jul 2017, 19:16 | updated: 16 Jul 2017, 19:44

Online Desk

Md. Yunus Ali, 50, one of the Lead Farmer of Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Linkages (SaFaL) programme received the prestigious Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 2017.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday distributed 'Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 1421 and 1422' at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in capital Dhaka among the 64 recipients.

Ten 10 individuals and organisations received gold medals. The gold medal carries Tk one lakh and a citation each. Eighteen individuals and organisations received silver medal, which carries Tk 50,000 and a citation, while 36 got bronze medal that carries Tk 25,000 and a citation each.

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury presided over the function. Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain was present as a special guest.

The SaFaL programme, being implemented in southwest Bangladesh by Solidaridad Network Asia in partnership Uttaran and Jagarani Chakkra Foundation with supported the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands supporting the small holder farmers to increase their farm productively engaged in the aquaculture, dairy and horticulture supply chains. The programme has developed 500 Lead farmers like Yunus Ali, who have become model farmer to transfer knowledge and technology to other fellow farmers for optimising agricultural productivity.

Yunus Ali, who hails from the village of Ramkrishnapur at Kolaroa in Satkhira, has been engaged in fruits and vegetables farming. Yunus was trained up as a model Lead Farmer to facilitate farmers to learn in the neighbouring villages. The Producer Groups, which is a unique platform for knowledge sharing, technology adoption and collaborative production and marketing practices, helped hundreds of farmers to increase their yield and develop linkages with public and private service providers.

By participating in a series of training organised by SaFaL, Yunus succeeded in enriching his knowledge and skills on adaptive farming practices resilient to local eco-system. ‘The training I have received as Lead Farmer has been invaluable,’ Yunus said, ‘it covered wide ranging issues like production optimisation, backward and forward market linkages, entrepreneurship, farm record keeping, post-harvest management, value addition and supply chain development and so on. I have shared this knowledge with my fellow farmers through regular technical sessions and this wider and extensive sharing have helped me brush up my knowledge even further.'

As a producer, Yunus Ali has shown remarkable success in mango production. Although Ramkrishnapur is considered as a local hub for mango production, producers like Yunus have long been facing problems like prevalence of pests, low yields and lack of marketing opportunities. However, by successfully applying the technologies promoted by SaFaL, Yunus succeeded in increasing his production gradually. This season, he produced mango (Himsagar and Langra) in 2.25 acres of land and made a net income of more than BDT 200,000, which was unimaginable just a few years ago. Yunus attributed this success to the new technologies as well as better linkages with the national and export supply chains, developed by SaFaL. ‘This year, I have sold most of my mango to Agora (A leading national supermarket chain) and the exporters, which has helped me make a good profit.'

Yunus’ success as a leading mango producer drew the attention of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE). Under the sponsorship of the DAE, he visited Thailand, Malaysia and Japan to learn about improved fruit production technologies. Over the years, Yunus has developed himself as a leading resource person on agricultural extension and he is frequently invited by various organisations to impart training to vegetable farmers and mango producers.

Yunus Ali got the selection for Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 2017 for his all-round contributions in agricultural development and food security, particularly in agro commodity mobilisation of farmers, technology dissemination, extension services, vermin compost production and use, motivating farmer for using pheromone trap for pest management, introducing saline tolerant BRRI Dhan 33, saving irrigation water using Alternate Water and Drying (AWD) process, etc. The DAE also recognised his exemplary role in organising mango farmers and developing the supply chain of safe mango from his locality to the European as well as the domestic market. Another achievement of Yunus, cited by the DAE for selecting him for this award, is the expansion of safe mango and jujube production area from 2 hectare to 12 hectare with the facilitation of the SaFaL programme. Yunus is the president of the local IPM (Integrated Pest Management) club, which has been selected by the DAE for receiving agro machineries worth BDT 35 lac for establishing a mechanisation service center for rice and other crops.

Yunus emerged as a role model for hundreds of farmers who are following his example for maximising their production and developing better linkages with the market. ‘From my experience, I have come to realize that, long-term benefits of the small holder farmers could only be achieved through institutionalisation and entrepreneurship development and that is where the real potential of programmes like SaFaL lies,’ Yunus said. For this reason, he wants to dedicate more time in organising the farmers and maximising their collective potentials.

He believes that, since agriculture is the backbone of our country’s economy, we all could contribute to the productivity increase through the increased adoption of adaptive farming technologies adaptive to the local eco-system.