BARCIK through its different projects, has been facilitating development program in different parts of Bangladesh adopting People led Development Approach (PLD) as its strategy. It is through this approach that BARCIK places its stakeholders in the center of all sorts of development process, i.e. problem identification, activity design, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Thus, the stakeholders realizing the sense of ownership get fully involved in the development process which are geared towards their own development. In this regard, BARCIK plays facilitative role to encourage, mobilize and capacitate them recognizing and emphasizing on their skills, experience and knowledge. It is through this process that leads BARCIK to facilitate development process in the areas of agrobiodiversity, environment & biodiversity conservation, Poverty reduction & urban resilience, climate change adaptation, gender, senior citizens’ right promotion and establishment of rights and access of primary natural resource users on natural resources etc. This article briefly mirrors the initiatives, process and achievement of BARCIK facilitating farmers to conserve agrobiodiversity.
However, farmers play the most important role to ensure food security and provide food for the nation. Agriculture is the largest employment sector in Bangladesh. As of 2016, it employs 47% of the total labor force and comprises 16% of the country’s GDP. The performance of this sector has an overwhelming impact on major macroeconomic objectives like employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security. A majority of population of Bangladeshis earn their living from agriculture. On the other hand, the flourish and progress of agriculture depends on the healthy state of agrobiodiversity. Farmers have to have easy access to seeds and other agriculture materials for producing diverse crops and corns. They should be encouraged to practice sustainable agriculture which provides an avenue to farm diverse crops and grains keeping the environment alive. Thus, BARCIK provides technical supports (such as making organic manure, pesticides, seed conservation, research) to farmers help them practicing sustainable agriculture. It is needless to say that in order to ensure food security of humankind the state of agrobiodiversity should be maintained well and keep it alive and stable. From this backdrop, BARCIK makes different efforts to provide supports to farmers so that they could become confident and technically sound in practicing sustainable agriculture which keeps the state of agrobiodiversity healthy. Besides, the organization also provides facilitating supports to them so that they could feel and realize regarding the importance of agrobiodiversity for producing abundant safe foods.
With the view to support and making farmers confident and realizing their role in producing foods adopting environment friendly methods BARCIK has successfully facilitated different activities. The organization helps farmers to establish seed banks in their village so that they could use their own seeds which they can collect and conserve by themselves. There are seed banks in different working areas of the organization where farmers conserve local varieties and area specific and in some case climate adaptable seeds. These farmers are motivated to exchange seeds to each other for expanding the use of local varieties which do not require chemicals for good yields. Exposure visits are arranged on regular basis to learn from farmers to farmers and to exchange knowledge, experiences and materials to each other. The exposure visits help farmers to boost their relationship as well. Yousuf Mulla, a national level rewarded farmer said, ‘We exchange these seeds with the famers from different districts such Rajshahi, Chapainawabgonj, Dinajpur, Comilla, Bagura, Nilfamary, Noakhali, Jhinadha, Netrakona and Satkhira districts. The exchange of seeds among us has strengthened our mutual and spritual relationship.’
On the other hand, BARCIK facilitates farmers to conduct applied research for searching drought, saline as well as climate adaptable varieties. The research works are done and managed by farmers in their own lands where they sow and transplant different local varieties of seeds to see which varieties produce good yields, adaptable to local climate and tolerant to saline and drought! The findings of the applied research are shared and verified (through field day) by farmers where different farmers from different villages are invited. All the farmers together choose the varieties which performs well. And this way, the expansion of use of local varieties is done. It is through the applied research which is called by BARCIK Participatory Varietals Selection (PVS) the organization has been able to conserve 653 local varieties seeds (Aman, Aush and Boro). BARCIK also encourages farmers to nourish and conserve uncultivated food plants. Women, particularly are interested in conserving these plants as they have food, nutrition and medicinal values. BARCIK to promote the use and conservation of uncultivated food plants does arrange cooking contest and quiz so that the importance and necessity of these plants spread among the new generation which could encourage them to conserve these plants. In addition, BARCIK also encourages and some supports marginal farmers and women to rear livestock and cultivate fishes in an environment friendly way. By doing all these agrobiodiversity related activities in an environment friendly way, BARCIK has played pivotal role to assist farmers conserving agrobiodiversity.
However, in spite of this contribution and support farmers still need supports and technical assistance from organizations like BARCIK to continue and expand their works to other areas and farmers for strengthening the process of agrobiodiversity conservation which will provide use safe foods, medicines and nutrition keeping the agroecology fine and safe. Therefore, including the states different organizations should come forward to patronize the good deeds of farmers.