“Syngenta explores PaniPipe across the country providing 50,000 to the farmer free of cost in 2009 with IRRI which is still prevailing as water saving technology.”
Sazzadul Hassan is the Managing Director of Syngenta Bangladesh Limited. He had previously served as the Head of Pricing Operations of Syngenta Asia Pacific and Marketing Director of Syngenta Bangladesh. Sazzadul holds skills regarding supply chain management, logistic management, pricing, import and negotiation. He received his M.Sc. degree in Computer Science from Dhaka University and MBA in Marketing from IBA.
Syngenta has been working with the agricultural communities of Bangladesh through various platforms, trying to increase the competitiveness of farmers. Can you please enlighten us about what facilities you are providing to the farmers? What feedback have you received so far?
Syngenta is working consistently to address the challenges that farmers in the country. With our unique approach of “thinking like a grower”, we believe in giving the farmers an integrated solution to all of their problems whether it is soil, inputs, weeds or technologies. With this approach we also believe that we will be able to contribute in a small way towards food security – one of the key developmental goals of the country. Through our integrated offers and continuous innovation, we increase per acre yield, help accelerate technology adoption while enabling growers to deal with an increasingly demanding value chain in a profitable manner. Our integrated solutions for crops offer seeds of superior quality that improve yields with early emergenceand vigorous growth crop protection products for controlling insects, weeds and diseases Furthermore, seed care technologies that protect vulnerable seeds and seedlings from pests and diseases.
Syngenta’s field force are primarily focused on providing unique solutions like small size packs of seeds and agro chemicals besides agronomy advice through farm family meetings and crop demonstrations to smallholders who constitute almost 90% of the farmers in Bangladesh. Syngenta’s caters to almost 9 million farmers annually.
Syngenta established its Learning and Development Centre in Bogra district in 2009 to trains farmers, channel partners and employees on crop agronomy and timely and safe use of crop protection products. We have received positive feedback of these training sessions and more stakeholders want to be part of this program.
It has been found that our cropping patterns have been changing over the years, something that Syngenta is well aware of based on their level of activity. What can you tell us about how farmers in Bangladesh cope with changing circumstances in comparison with farmers abroad?
Bangladesh is facing the issues of climate change, declining soil fertility and water shortage. These problems have often led to farmers switching crops in order to survive the season which has disturbed the cropping pattern. Uneven rainfall distribution is also affecting the cropping window of farmers.
Syngenta Bangladesh is developing a Bacterial Leaf Blight (BLB) tolerant rice hybrid which will benefit rice growers. We are also delivering hybrid varieties of corn, okra and chilli that are cultivated across the country throughout the year and are helping farmers to adapt to adverse agro climatic conditions and other abiotic stresses.
Syngenta has also embarked on a unique initiative to propagate an Alternative Wet and Drying (AWD) technology called PaniPipe developed by IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) in 2009; it consists of a pipe that works as a visual device to see the level of water below the soil surface. Aided with Syngenta’s unique solution for Rice and the PaniPipe technology farmers have been able to save irrigation cost, improve return on investment, increase rice yields and most importantly save water to minimize impact on the environment. Syngenta explores PaniPipe across the country providing 50,000 to the farmer free of cost in 2009 with IRRI which is still prevailing as water saving technology.
You are creating greater market access for the farmers using various tools. What are these tools and how have they enhanced your work?
We have a website www.krishitey.com that provides information to farmers regarding cultivation planning to harvest.
A significant number of rural producers especially homestead producers, do not get access to quality inputs, knowledge and appropriate technology owing to inefficiency in the traditional procurement channels. As a result, quality input sellers are unable to reach the producers who therefore incur low productivity. The problem is especially severe for the women homestead producer, living in rural locations and isolated from mainstream trade and business activities. The experience showed that getting access to knowledge and quality inputs can increase the opportunity for additional/higher incomes of such producers.
In this context, both Consigleiri Private Limited (Co facilitator) and Syngenta Bangladesh Limited have made a contractual partnership to work together under Katalyst fund and the Women’s Economic Empowerment unit of Katalyst aims at uses this approach to provide women with access and agency to improve their economic capacity. The market system will target women in a sustainable manner with improved access to quality inputs, information, and knowledge and market linkage; as a result they will have enhanced economic empowerment.
What is your take on the multidimensional forms and challenges in agriculture?
Bangladesh faces many agricultural challenges and in view of the growing population and their increasing requirements, the country has to continuously work on enhancing productivity by blending modern technologies, scientific agronomic practices, high quality seeds and world-class crop protection solutions. These provisions will ensure that crop losses due to pests are substantially contained. Syngenta is committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.
Towards this, we have launched the Good Growth Plan which is integral to our business with specific, ambitious and measurable target to be achieved by 2020.
Syngenta Bangladesh started the Good Growth Plan project in Bangladesh in Boro‘ 2013-14 seasons by setting up 10 reference farms in Bogra, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Jessore, Mymensigh and Comilla. Each farm focuses on mainly the rice crop and uses the GroMoro solution which comprising of simple crop protection protocol and agronomic know-how to help the growers protect their rice crop, increase yields, improve quality and ROI.
In keeping with its commitments, our company has taken a number of initiatives. We have set up 10 reference farms showcasing the GroMore rice solution to support the yield increase of the rice crop with 15,000 farmers currently in touch. Syngenta Bangladesh has trained 2.65 million lead farmers, spraymen, and retailers on five golden rule of pesticide application and Peronal Protective Equipment (PPE) usage; 2.3 million of which were smaller holder. Moreover, we have empowered 2.12 million small holders in Bangladesh through our innovative integrated solutions.
How you are evaluating the long term impact of climate change on our agricultural sector?
Higher temperatures and variations in rainfall patterns can reduce yields while encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Giving growers better access to technology can help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, Syngenta is developing hybrids, such as Agrisure Artesian corn that can cope better during extended dry periods, while our seed care products support better root establishment; this helps plants draw water more deeply from the soil and use this available moisture more efficiently. Non-selective herbicides contribute to conservation agriculture by enabling effective weed control with minimal tillage. This allows organic matter to build up in the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide that might otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.
It is important to look at biotechnology in the context of climate change. Genetic Modification (GM) technology introduced in crops helps fight the various stresses that affect growth. The herbicide tolerant technology addresses weeds that compete with the plant for sunlight, nutrients and water. The Bt. technology addresses pests that affect plant productivity. There are the others that address various climatic stresses like moisture, drought etc.
I am particularly happy to note that Bangladesh has realized the potential of biotechnology and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has released four bt brinjal varieties since October, 2013. Another three are likely to be released shortly and things are on track for the development of biology driven technology to meet future requirement.
Where have you had the greatest impact from your projects when it comes to dealing with the livelihood of the farmers and the agro-community in Bangladesh?
Our integrated strategy is creating maximum impact on the ground. Building on the combined strength of our crop protection and seeds businesses, we are embracing the farmer with one voice and one face, to deliver end-to-end integrated solutions for key crops like rice, corn, vegetables, etc. Our Integrated Crop Solutions for these crops ensures increased yield and quality of the produce giving better profitability margins to the growers. Farmers have also benefitted from two smallholders projects being implemented by Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh in Northwest Bangladesh since July 2011. One is The Integrated Agri-support Project (IASP), focused on value chain development. The other is Sustainable Agriculture for Santal Communities (SASC), focused on livelihood improvement. Both the projects are being implemented through partnerships with local NGOs and several private sector companies for value chain implementation.
The agro- community is the lifeline of the Bangladesh economy, however, the agro-supply chain and post-harvest activities face many difficulties. What are your thoughts on this scenario?
Agriculture continues to be of strategic importance for the Bangladesh economy providing livelihood to more than half the population. Bangladesh has yet to realize its full potential in terms of yield, processing and exports. Given the country’s agro-climatic conditions the sector fulfills less than the potential yield for most crops. This represents a huge opportunity across the food chain. This can be achieved by improving yields across all crops, augmenting processing capability, reducing postharvest losses and strengthening the quality of farm produce using a mix of business participation, technology-oriented productivity growth, food processing and exports, over the next 20 years.
Bangladesh is however at a juncture where further reforms are urgently required to achieve greater efficiency and productivity in agriculture for sustaining growth. There is an urgent need to invest heavily in farm research, mechanization, and rural infrastructure, providing better access to high value markets, better credit facilities and input use. There is a need more than ever for integrated solutions that use the entire tool box from genetics to all through the various parts of chemistry for tackling the various challenges in agriculture.