The Katalyst II project (2011-2012) was a continuation of the first Katalyst project. It was implemented under the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) by Swisscontact, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ) International Services and IFDC.
The project was jointly funded by the: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID); the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Crop agriculture, particularly grain production, is the major driving force of the Bangladesh economy. Rice is the country’s staple food and accounts for about 77 percent of the total cropped area. Some areas have had success with crop diversification to maize and vegetable production. Also, maize has been particularly important as a livestock feed.
But despite its crucial role in the Bangladesh economy, the agricultural sector is underperforming; actual yields remain at 50 percent of their potential. Soil nutrient levels of phosphorus and potassium as well as secondary nutrients and micronutrients are being depleted. Improved soil nutrient management, supported by fertilizer deep placement (FDP), irrigation and quality seed, is a key component of the GoB’s strategy to improve yields on a sustainable basis.
Swisscontact-Katalyst signed a contract with IFDC to act as a co-facilitator for Katalyst II in facilitating an investor-friendly organic fertilizer market through an efficient licensing procedure. The objective of the project was to plan, design and implement interventions in strategic areas to: (1) facilitate the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to initiate policy review for organic fertilizer licensing; (2) develop and approve recommendations for policy amendment; and (3) lobby to incorporate recommendations in the policy.
Katalyst II followed a pro-poor, market development approach in promoting economic growth. Strengthening and supporting the development of the systems that underpin agricultural development were emphasized. IFDC provided services and expertise to improve market development in the Bangladesh fertilizer sector, with an emphasis on advancing private sector participation in the market. Another project focus was on fertilizer policy framework and the removal of investment barriers.
The project was implemented within a period of 21 months, effective from January 1, 2010, to September 2011. It was followed by an extension period through August 2012. Initially, IFDC conducted an in-depth assessment of the fertilizer market with an emphasis on identifying policy, regulatory and technical barriers that impede sound market development. The extension was approved in order to help strengthen the Bangladesh Fertilizer Association (BFA) through the establishment of a market information system (MIS).
BFA is a non-profit trade organization that seeks to bring together and represent all sectors of fertilizer trade and industry, including distributors, merchants, importers, exporters, supply agencies and manufacturers.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between IFDC and BFA, became effective in December 2011 and remains in force until November 2016. IFDC assisted BFA by designing a preliminary plan for yearly fertilizer demand projections in each of Bangladesh’s upazilas (government districts). A yearly demand projection is important to BFA so that member agro-dealers order the appropriate fertilizers in the correct amounts and at the right time.
To achieve sustainable crop yield growth through soil health and fertility management, Katalyst II worked to: promote correct fertilizer management practices like FDP; ensure the availability of all fertilizers at the farm level for balanced fertilizer application; and facilitate a market-friendly regulatory framework. IFDC helped to increase the yields of rice, maize, jute, vegetable and potato crops through educational efforts focused on the effective, efficient and correct use of fertilizer and other agro-inputs.
Katalyst II also provided support to the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) to make available the location and crop-specific fertilizer recommendation data for online use by farmers, through private information communication technology channels of Grameen Phone and Banglalink.
As a co-implementer of Katalyst II, IFDC worked with the MoA to facilitate approval of the fertilizer recommendation software (FRS) program that was funded by the government to sustain the program on a continuous basis. Katalyst earlier signed an MoU with SRDI to disseminate soil fertility-related messages through private mobile telephone operators. This data is also available at SRDI’s website. During 2009-10, 2,666 farmers utilized the online fertilizer recommendations software. The number declined to 2,167 in 2010-11.
Accomplishments included: (1) shifting from a project- to program-based budget to enable SRDI to sustain its activities; (2) establishing a technical committee at the MoA for soil fertility-related policy action, including fertilizer quality; (3) establishing inter-agency monitoring on soil and fertilizer; and (4) capacity building of SRDI.
Two policy papers were prepared: “Use of Digital Technology in Agriculture Extension Systems: Roles of AIS in the Access to Information (A2I) Project and SRDI” and “Capacity Building and Professionalism of BFA.”
IFDC and BFA have a common goal to support Bangladesh’s MoA to improve the productivity of agriculture on a sustainable basis.
Final update Sept. 2012
Updated May 2012
KATALYST Develops Private Sector Markets in Bangladesh (Taken from IFDC Report Volume 35, No.3)