From the flat alluvial plains of Bangladesh to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, IFDC’s EurAsia Division serves a vast and diverse area of the world. But no matter how far apart these countries may be – or how dissimilar their cultures – their peoples face similar circumstances in the agricultural sector. In the countries served by IFDC such as Albania, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others, nearly 64 percent of labor forces are dedicated to agriculture on average, totaling more than 60 million people. And with the inclusion of immediate and extended family members who share the situations facing these laborers, the number of people potentially affected by our projects could be as many as 250 million.
The majority of these countries have limited arable land (as little as 6.5 percent of the total land area), combined with limited resources, poor soil quality, outdated technologies and unreliable supply systems. Crop qualities and quantities continue to dwindle while farmers watch their yields and incomes shrink to near-subsistence.
The EurAsia Division is dedicated to reversing these downward agricultural market trends. EAD seeks innovative ways to bring sustainable agricultural production systems to the nations in the division, with special attention to improved agro-input technologies. With an array of services including agro-inputs education and training, soil nutrient management, private sector-led agribusiness development and resource conservation, the division offers programs specialized to address the specific needs of each nation served – while also addressing the common factors that lead to long-term food security.
Improved Agricultural Technologies and Transfer
IFDC’s experience in agricultural technology development and transfer has resulted in well-established knowledge transfer programs. From the introduction of high quality agro-inputs to supply system training, our representatives provide education in technology, farm management, mechanization, integrated soil fertility management, urea deep placement (UDP) and advanced crop protection techniques.
EAD introduced and continues to promote the adoption of UDP – a simple yet innovative technology that involves the placement of 1-3 grams of urea supergranules or briquettes at a 7-10 cm soil depth. This technology is particularly effective when used with rice, but it has been used successfully with other crops as well. UDP increases nitrogen use efficiency because most of the urea nitrogen stays in the soil, close to the plant roots where it is absorbed more effectively. The benefits of the technology are significant: a 20 percent increase in crop yields and a 40 percent decrease in nitrogen losses.
For many of the countries served by IFDC, resource conservation is one of the most critical technologies for fostering long-term agricultural improvement. New technologies in fertilization, irrigation, fertigation and crop protection are tested in real-world environments and used effectively in various projects. Together, IFDC technology development and transfer programs help generate healthier land, better crop quality and greater yields – all while saving precious resources in a manner that can be sustained independently in the long-term.
Sustainable Agriculture Production Systems
Effective training is an integral part of establishing a sustainable agricultural network. IFDC experts work diligently to prepare training programs specific to each region, then outscale these programs by teaching local trainers who disseminate the information to specific audiences. IFDC also develops partnerships with public and private stakeholders, further establishing a reliable network with which these newly trained farmers can do business. Improved access to inputs through agro-dealers is established as part of this process, and longer-term training in subjects such as soil nutrient management are developed to ensure that all participants in the local value chain are keenly aware of the ongoing challenges that must be addressed.
Self-reliance and local sustainability are major focuses in this process. By training farmers and other members of the value chain to engage in local seed and fertilizer production, for example, IFDC ensures that smallholders are not as dependent on external sources for basic inputs. And through conservation program efforts, IFDC enables these groups to exercise more efficient and resource-saving methods in the use of water, fertilizer and crop protection products.
As a further example, in some regions, cattle are a staple component of the agricultural value chain, but poor milk production has hampered many farmers. The introduction of improved breeds of cattle has set the stage for immediate increases in milk production – and additional training in proper feed, health and reproduction have established a mechanism for sustainability.
Using a competitive agricultural systems approach, EAD links farmers to input and output markets. This is achieved by helping to create or recommend improvements to farmer groups and associations that are able to leverage their collective power to purchase quality agro-inputs and establish a dependable mechanism for crops (outputs). Linking these markets is critical for the supply of quality inputs and the subsequent successful distribution of outputs. Local and regional dealers, private enterprises and international suppliers are encouraged and assisted by EAD in efforts to build sustainable agricultural trade networks.
Building government support is also important to long-term, sustainable success. With government participation in the development of economic exchange, those along the value chain find more freedom of service, credit and product movement, allowing more rapid deployment of products and resources into otherwise inhospitable political and economic environments. The promotion of incentive-oriented national and regional agricultural policies contributes to intensified agricultural production and improved marketing.
EAD also views agribusiness as an expansion of knowledge about projects that are available through IFDC. And without active farmer participation and community involvement, a link in the value chain is broken. This is the reason IFDC actively seeks to build smallholder informational programs by developing or participating in expositions, outreach campaigns and other events that increase knowledge and build project exposure.
Farmers throughout Eurasia have experienced measurable successes in the development of sustainable agricultural production systems. The tens of thousands of smallholder farmers who have participated in IFDC programs have seen dramatic changes. From substantial increases in cereal and vegetable crop yields to long-term increases in dairy production, IFDC’s farming partners now enjoy greater incomes and markedly more dependable supply systems to maintain their improved livelihoods. They have the tools to sustain their agricultural production and now look to their governments as partners in their success.
In all, EAD has supported smallholder farmers to succeed with:
- Increased crop yields (cereal, vegetables, fruits)
- Increased crop quality and quantity (with better fertilizer and seed varieties)
- Increased dairy production (utilizing better breeds)
- Self-sustaining mechanisms for seeds and fertilizer (through local production)
- Resource conservation/environmental protection through lower use of fertilizer and water (higher efficiency of inputs)
Current EAD Projects
Recent EAD Projects
- Albania Credit Enhancement Fund, (2006-2011)
- Expansion of UDP Technology to 80 Upazilas in Bangladesh During Boro, (2007-2008)
- Expansion of UDP Technology to Additional 80 Upazilas in Bangladesh, (2008-2011)
- Food for Progress Program in Albania (FFPA), (2003-2008)
- Improved Livelihood for Sidr-Affected Rice Farmers (ILSAFARM), (2008-2010)
- Kyrgyz Agro-Input Enterprise for Agricultural Development (KAED), (2001-2008)
- Kyrgyz Agro-Input Enterprise for Agricultural Development (KAED II), (2008-2010)
- Market Development in the Fertilizer Sector of Bangladesh (Katalyst I), (2010-2011)
- Market Development in the Fertilizer Sector of Bangladesh (Katalyst II), (2011-2012)
IFDC Offices in Eurasia
EAD has a regional office in Bangladesh and project-specific offices in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with headquarters in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, United States. These offices are staffed by more than 100 experienced professionals whose mission is the alleviation of hunger and poverty and the establishment of food security and agricultural sustainability in the nations they serve.
EAD Office at Headquarters
P.O. Box 2040
Muscle Shoals, Alabama 35662, USA
Telephone: +1 (256) 381 6600
Fax: +1 (256) 381 7408
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Photo Captions and Credits:
Middle Photo: Young boy holding crop in Bangladesh. Photo by Taylor Pursell
Right Photo: Dr. Amit Roy, IFDC president and CEO, with Vietnamese woman. Photo by Taylor Pursell