Australian High Commissioner Julia Niblett meets Lucky Begum

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Julia Niblett, Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh celebrated International Women’s Day with women farmers of Mondolabari and other surrounding villages in Rangpur District, Bangladesh. In speaking with women farmers, including Lucky Begum, Julia was able to see first hand how women are embracing new technology, participating in pre and post harvest decision making and extending their entrepreneurial skills. Women’s empowerment is vital for achieving food security and improving nutrition in Bangladesh.

Lucky Begum is a passionate farmer and mother of four who lives in Borodorgha Village, Rangpur District, Bangladesh.

“Farming is important because our livelihood depends on farming. For Maize we earlier used to farm by ploughing and when we used to farm wheat we would also be ploughing. This is what we did before.”

— Lucky Begum

Four years ago the Australian Government funded Sustainable Resilient Farming System Intensification (SRFSI) project began working with Lucky and others in her community. Initially a large farmer in the community Bablu Mia had a demonstration plot on his land, “our very first introduction to strip tillage was through him. We saw him doing the strip tillage farming, and through him we learnt and got interested in this method.” The benefits for farmers adopting the new conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification practices are obvious.

“Now when we are doing it, there is no need for ploughing, so it saves money, earlier there was requirement for weeding, now even that is not needed. Compared to before, the yield is higher. Before we would expend more and earn less, but now we are spending less and earning more.”

— Lucky Begum

Since adopting the new practices, Lucky has observed other women in the community also felt encouraged to play more active roles in making decisions about their farming and adopt the new methods, “I used to be the only women in my area doing it, learning how strip tillage for cultivating maize and wheat would turn out. But as I did, other saw my process and started to also feel encouraged to do the same.”

Lucky is one of tens of thousands of farmers across the Eastern Gangetic Plains that has taken part in the SRFSI project funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and ACIAR, and implemented by CIMMYT and local partners including Bangladesh NGO, RDRS. SRFSI is working with over 100,00 farmers across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.