Before participating in farmer field schools (FFS), Rajopa, a stay-at-home mother of four young children, struggled to survive on her husband’s low income. In order to provide sufficient food for her family, Rajopa decided to join a SPRING-led FFS that would use the family’s land that had previously been uncultivated.
SPRING establishes FFS with resource-poor households in the divisions of Khulna and Barisal in Southern Bangladesh in order to enhance access to diversified nutrient-rich vegetables, fish, and poultry. SPRING has integrated agriculture, nutrition and hygiene into a group-based learning process that is central to the philosophy behind the FFS approach. Rajopa received training and inputs for her homestead garden, such as seeds for highly nutritious vegetables, and soon began to produce a large amount of vegetables which helped the family meet its food requirements, as well as adding to their dietary diversity. Rajopa began to raise poultry, which resulted in eggs and chickens for her family. She also received Essential Nutrition and Hygiene Actions counseling to help keep her children healthy. Rajopa’s neighbors are now coming to her for advice for their own homestead food production.
Rajopa and her family live in the upazila of Doulatkhan in the district of Bhola and they are one of many who have benefitted from SPRING’s efforts to improve nutrition. Using the FFS model,
SPRING/Bangladesh targets poor households with pregnant and lactating women and children under 2 (such as Rajopa’s family), promoting nutrition behavior change communication and nutrition and hygiene messages. SPRING/Bangladesh created hands-on agricultural trainings for these women at the household level, focused on a combination of three varieties of homestead food production: aquaculture, poultry rearing and raising vegetables.
SPRING/Bangladesh began FFS implementation in 15 sub-districts (“upazilas”) in June 2012, and currently works in 40 upazilas across the Feed the Future intervention divisions of Khulna and Barisal. In FY14, SPRING will increase its proportionate coverage through FFS programs of within the lower two socioeconomic quintiles in these 40 upazilas.
This year, World Food Day reminds us that innovative strategies need to be developed in order to ensure sustainable food systems. SPRING and its partners are part of these efforts, and SPRING’s work in Bangladesh is making great strides in advancing food security and nutrition.
To learn more about World Food Day and SPRING in all four partner countries, visithttp://www.spring-nutrition.org/ . You can join the agriculture and nutrition conversation by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
SPRING/Bangladesh is a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project that aims to improve the nutritional status of 350,000 households between 2011 and 2016, reaching targeted communities and focusing on homestead food production and Essential Nutrition and Hygiene Actions. SPRING is managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, with Helen Keller International, the International Food Policy Research Institute, The Manoff Group, and Save the Children.
A special thank you to Alexis Strader, Ryan Macabasco, Aaron Buchsbaum, Bridget Rogers, and the SPRING/Bangladesh team for their contributions.