Based upon the success of the original “Expansion” project in 2007-2008, the Bangladesh government and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) decided to expand urea deep placement (UDP) technology to an additional 80 upazilas (sub-districts) with technical assistance from IFDC. The project’s aim was to improve farmer incomes and increase livelihood opportunities.
The UDP technology, pioneered by IFDC, reduces the amount of urea fertilizer needed for irrigated and rain-fed paddy crops by as much as 40 percent and at the same time increases yields by 20 percent. UDP involves the insertion of large (1.8 to 2.7 grams) urea briquettes into the rice root zone after transplanting. Nitrogen losses are significantly reduced with this technology compared with the conventional method of broadcasting fertilizer into the paddy water.
IFDC engineers designed and developed a simple machine to mold prilled or granular urea into briquettes. Since then, more than 1,000 briquette producers have been trained by IFDC and DAE. In 2008 there were 2,000 briquetting machines operating in Bangladesh. With this expanded project, 400 new machines began operation, creating more job opportunities for Bangladeshis. Many of these small-enterprise entrepreneurs are women.
Over the life of the project, UDP technology saved more than 31,000 metric tons (mt) of urea (saving US $16 million). Using UDP created new employment opportunities and generated $10.58 million of additional wages in the rural areas over the course of the project. Of that amount, $5.48 million (more than 50 percent) was paid to women. An increase in rice production of 471,479 mt over the life of the project ensured food security for an additional 2.1 million Bangladeshis and generated incremental income of $236 million. The UDP technology was used on 574,974 hectares (ha) and more than 1.4 million farmers adopted this technology over five paddy seasons. Farmers who adopted UDP had net returns of $188 per hectare more than farmers who broadcast urea. This was an increase of $88 over the net returns of farmers who began using the technology in the original Expansion project. The average yearly income for Bangladeshis is $520; therefore, these returns are significant.
The project sponsored 3,844 training programs for farmers on the use of UDP technology; 2.3 percent were women. Ten training programs were organized for 275 private sector urea briquette manufacturers on machine operation, maintenance, marketing and profitability. The total net income generated from 252 machines in the project was estimated at $911,232.
Benefits of using UDP as reported by farmers are urea saving (94.2 percent), increased yields (93.8 percent), a single application of urea (87.9 percent), fewer weeds (84.5 percent), more profit (52.1 percent) and less plant disease (50.2 percent).
The project ended in June 2011. The phenomenal success of UDP is continuing with the Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) project.
[Updated May 11, 2012]