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IPM Innovation Lab wins $3 million award to address crop threats in Bangladesh

Bangladesh

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management has won a $3 million award to strengthen agriculture in Bangladesh and improve the country’s resilience to current and emerging crop threats. The award is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Mission in Bangladesh as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Improving the availability, affordability, and adoption of integrated pest management technologies is a major priority of the three-year project, titled Feed the Future Bangladesh Integrated Pest Management. So is enhancing the capacity of a range of agricultural stakeholders in Bangladesh, from farmers to private companies to students, to apply such measures.

The IPM Innovation Lab will collaborate with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to address crop threats such as the invasive fall armyworm, an insect that wreaks havoc on maize and hundreds of other critical food crops. The program already addresses fall armyworm in Africa and Asia by setting up biocontrol satellite centers for mass-production and release of natural enemies. 

In this Bangladesh project, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will coordinate with the IPM Innovation Lab to develop preventative measures against emerging crop threats by developing improved quarantine regulations and providing pesticide safety training to farmers. Integrated pest management measures will be introduced to protect a range of crops from pests and disease, including rice, mango, potato, lentil, and others.

“There is a great deal of agricultural potential in Bangladesh,” said Muni Muniappan, director of the IPM Innovation Lab. “Despite the important role it plays in the country’s economy, there is limited space and resources to enhance its growth. We look forward to collaborating with partners on the ground to build sustainable, effective, and cost-efficient approaches that will give farmers many options to consider when addressing urgent crop threats and that will also lead to healthier livelihoods.”  

As population growth and subsequent food security requirements increase, land scarcity is becoming a more pressing issue in Bangladesh. Despite growth in agricultural production in recent years, the country has yet to assume a competitive role in agricultural trade. Current and emerging crop pests and diseases threaten that potential progress.

In addition, reliance on outdated or toxic chemical pesticides is rapidly growing. Illiteracy, lack of formal training, and limited access to protective equipment contribute to human and environmental health concerns. A priority of the project will be reaching marginalized communities with IPM training, tools, and information. 

To inclusively scale IPM practices and products, the IPM Innovation Lab will collaborate with the Center for International Research, Education, and Development’s Women and Gender in International Development program. One of the team’s goals is ensuring that women's, men's, and young people's priorities and preferences are at the forefront of the project’s design.

The Feed the Future Bangladesh Integrated Pest Management project will be the fifth award the IPM Innovation Lab has won in addition to its core funding in just the last five years.

“The legacy of the IPM Innovation Lab’s dedication to science-based development assistance,” said Brady Deaton, interim executive director of CIRED, “continues to grow stronger as more countries recognize its contribution to stronger food systems, improved human health, and poverty reduction.”