Training for Farmer Field School Organizer (FOs) on Fruit Tree Management

A collaborative action research between Blue Gold Program and Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU) Germ Plasm Center, Mymensingh, was running in BG polders areas from 2015 to promote crop diversification and to increase year round availability of fruits and vegetables promoting food security.

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To strengthen the action research activities at polder level a three day long training programme was organized by Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU) Germ Plasm Center, Mymensingh for Farmer Field School Organizer on “Propagation, nursery and management of fruit trees and vegetable crops”. The objectives of this course were to build capacity of FOs on fruit trees management, ICM/IPM practices, propagation practices of fruits and vegetables, postharvest practices of fruits and vegetables. The duration was from 30 May 2016 to 01 June 2016.

During this hands-on training, the FOs familiarized themselves with a range of propagation techniques of fruit trees, such as the use of cuttings (e.g. lemon, dragon fruit, wax jambo), air-layering (e.g. lychee, guava) and grafting techniques (e.g. mango, sapodilla). Also planting and transplanting techniques (pit preparation, vegetable bed preparation) and management of fruit and vegetables (fertilization, irrigation, pest management) ware part of the three day training.

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The practical experience gained in this training course is important for the FFS facilitators as they are involved in organizing Farmer Field Schools (FFS) that include sessions on homestead fruit and vegetable production. They will also be involved in providing backstopping support to nursery owners who received a similar training on propagation techniques. Since May 2015, a number of new fruit and vegetable varieties were introduced by BAU in several Blue Gold polders to test them in a practical action research program together with FFS farmers. Crops that are being tested include yam, taro, dragon fruit, strawberries and improved varieties of mango, lemon, sapodilla, lychee, passion fruit and drumstick. For most fruits it is still too early to draw conclusions, but yam and taro have performed very well, which means that besides homestead use there could also be commercial opportunities for these crops.

The facilitators were professors from Horticulture, Entomology and Pathology department of Bangladesh Agricultural University. They conducted their sessions with live specimen, practice session, farm visit etc. The trainees expressed their gratitude to learn such advanced knowledge, which they will disseminate among the community while run the FFS and monitor farmers field activities.