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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 have worked with NGOs, government 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.

Women measuring and excavating a canal in Bangladesh to increase access to freshwater for crops

By doing this and through ethical community engagement, it has been possible to identify opportunities to manage risks of agricultural intensification and promote social inclusivity and equity under different agricultural development scenarios. The project has focused on capacity building and institutional components of agricultural intensification, specifically on water management through water user groups which included women and marginal households.

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 Agricultural University (BAU) and three NGOs: PRADAN, CDHI and SHUSHILAN.

The results

Best practice and inclusive policies

Women growing watermelon using freshwater from canals to sell in markets in Bangladesh

The project has focused on capacity building and institutional components of agricultural intensification.

Through ethical community engagement processes, the empowerment and inclusion of landless or marginal smallholder farmers, women-headed households and tribal minorities has been piloted in agricultural intensification, pro-poor value chains and water management interventions. This has improved incomes, increased food security and enhanced nutrition.

Women singing together during a capacity building on empowerment

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

Socially inclusive guidelines, policies and best practices have been adopted across other research and government projects to enhance social inclusion.

To find out more about the project, visit SIAGI online.

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