We are working with Australian and international partner organisations on a project which aims to achieve socially inclusive and sustainable agricultural intensification in West Bengal and Bangladesh.

The challenge

Inclusive and sustainable intensification

Agricultural intensification in India and Bangladesh over the past 50 years has substantially increased food production and improved food security, helping to alleviate poverty.

Villagers in Dacope, Bangladesh who are participating in the SIAGI project

Gains have been made through the use of high-yielding crop varieties, better animal breeds and animal husbandry, and the adoption of aquaculture, fertilisation, mechanisation, irrigation and pesticides.

However, these gains have come at the expense of increasing social disparity between more affluent landholders and socially disadvantaged groups, such as landless or marginal smallholder farmers, women-headed households and tribal minorities.

Affluent landholders are in a stronger position to capture the benefits of agricultural innovations and can better absorb risk. Consequently, marginal groups are much more exposed to unintended consequences of agricultural intensification.

Our response

Collaboration to overcome barriers

Through the SIAGI (Socially Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural Intensification) project, researchers from India, Bangladesh and Australia are working with NGOs and the private sector to better understand how key social, institutional, economic and environmental factors affect livelihood risks, social exclusion and environmental degradation in agricultural intensification.

By doing this and through close community engagement, it will be possible to identify opportunities to manage risks of agricultural intensification and promote social inclusivity and equity under different agricultural development scenarios.

SIAGI research sites are located in the eastern Indo Gangetic Plains around Cooch Behar in West Bengal, north eastern India and in the coastal zones around Khulna and Patuakhali in southern Bangladesh.

The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the project partners are CSIRO, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australian National University (ANU), Livelihoods and Natural Resource Management Institute (LNRMI), Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT), Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU), YesBank and three NGOs: PRADAN, CDHI and SHUSHILAN.

The results

Best practice and inclusive policies

It is expected that through the SIAGI project, public-private partnerships that support socially excluded groups will be piloted using pro-poor value chain and insurance approaches. These include partnerships with landless or marginal smallholder farmers, women-headed households and tribal minorities.

Guidelines and design principles for community engagement and agricultural intensification programs that are more socially inclusive, equitable and sustain the natural resource base are to be developed by government policy partners in the SIAGI project.

The aim is to have socially inclusive guidelines, policies and best practices adopted across ACIAR and other research projects to enhance social inclusion.

To find out more about the project, visit the SIAGI website

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