Bangladesh is facing a climate crisis, and this is directly impacting its agricultural areas, food production and livelihood security. Research and academic institutes in the country are focussing their work to develop flood-tolerant and climate adaptive technologies for deep water and flood-prone areas across the country. Australian scientists have been collaborating with Bangladeshi counterparts for many years in the areas of agriculture, water, and climate resilience, towards achieving the sustainable livelihoods outcomes.

Dr Jagadish Timsina, Director of Agricultural Research and Development, was invited by the International Maize and Wheat Research Centre (CIMMYT) country office in Dhaka and the Department of Agronomy and Haor Agriculture of Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU) of Bangladesh. He visited the country from mid-November to 10 December 2019. During his stay in Bangladesh, Dr Timsina worked as an expert scientist for CIMMYT Bangladesh. The work involved documentation and analysis of research data and writing publications for per-reviewed scientific journals in collaboration with CIMMYT’s national and international scientists.

At SAU, he met with Dr. Nazrul Islam, Professor of Department of Agronomy, and discussed opportunities for collaboration with the University, especially for the development of appropriate technologies suitable for Haor areas. Dr Timsina has been supervising  a PhD research project, and recognising the positive impact of collaborative supervision, the University requested him to take more PhD students in future. The Department organized face-to-face meetings for him with the academic staff and the post-graduate students, and also with a group of Nepalese Undergraduate students. The academic staff of the Departments of Agronomy, Soil Science and Agricultural Meteorology are looking for opportunities to receive trainings on crop/soil/weather simulation modelling techniques, with a view to incorporate such quantitative modelling tools in the academic curricula. In those meetings, he offered advice on how interested students can pursue their higher education in Australia.

In various meetings with Bangladeshi researchers, Dr Timsina informed that there are actionable opportunities for collaboration with the University on short-term, non-degree training on quantitative modelling tools and techniques, and academic teaching to post-graduate students, mentoring dissertations of post-graduate students, and guiding academic staff of the University in writing publications for peer-reviewed journals. He added that the scientists from Australian universities and research institutes including IFSD are very well placed to assist Bangladesh in making its agriculture sector more resilient to climate change and flood and sustainable in the face of growing challenges, particularly in Haor and flood-prone areas in north and northeast districts and coastal areas in the southern districts.

While in Sylhet, the Agronomy Department organized trips for Dr Timsina to visit large-scale tea and rubber plantations near Sylhet and in Srimangal (Moulivbazar district). He was fortunate to see 125 years old tea plants (planted in 1894). Besides Sylhet, he also visited Farm Power and Agricultural Machineries and Irrigation Water Management departments of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) in Gazipur district, where he had an opportunity to see latest developments in small-scale machineries and innovative and cost-effective irrigation management techniques suitable for smallholder farmers of South Asia. Dr Timsina has already been collaborating with BARI researchers and also guiding them on writing publications for per-reviewed scientific journals for many years.

As part of IFSD South Asia strategy, Dr Timsina’s visit to Bangladesh has created a new and solid foundation to advance collaborative programs on agriculture and natural resources management between IFSD (and other Australian research institutes) and the Sylhet Agricultural University (and other Bangladesh based organizations). IFSD’s existing experience in Australia and other parts of South Asia such as Nepal can provide a strong ground for an effective collaboration in Bangladesh.