Written by: Bhagirath Behera
The three-day SIAGI value chain (VC) workshop was organised from 2-4 August 2017 at the picturesque riverside campus of the Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU), Mymensingh, Bangladesh. The overall objective of the workshop was to have a renewed understanding of the purpose and function of VC related activities in SIAGI project, and have an agreement on objectives, milestones and timelines. The workshop focussed on designing activities under this thematic area that integrate into the broader objectives of the SIAGI Project. In addition to the VC team members of SIAGI from Australia, India, and Bangladesh, participants from the International Water Management Institute IWMI in Nepal and Blue Gold in Bangladesh also joined the workshop. They brought new perspectives from their experiences into the existing VC analysis.
The format of presentations and discussions were rather informal and unconventional in a sense that efforts were specifically made to avoid formal presentation using slides which would then confine the discussions largely to them. Presentations were short and sharp, which was made in an informal setting followed by passionate discussion by all the participants.
After the customary formal welcome ceremony attended by the dignitaries from the BAU, Lilly from CSIRO introduced the new workplans, their principles, objectives and milestones to the participants which set the context for the workshop. This was followed by presentations by SIAGI team members reviewing the work undertaken so far under three themes: livelihoods and community aspirations, nutrition sensitive agriculture (NSA), and market reports and VC mapping.
The attempt to incorporate NSA into the overall framework of VC analysis was made in this workshop which generated alot of interesting comments during discussion ranging from the issues of trade-offs between market-based crops (cash crops) and nutrition-based crops, gender disparities in nutrition based food consumption within a family in patriarchal societies of India and Bangladesh, and lack of awareness about nutrition content of fruits and vegetables cultivated.
Working sessions were full of fun and at the same time a great learning experiences for the participants. We had to test our painting skills when asked to draw a picture of each community based on what we know about them.
The workshop ended with developing the work plan followed by a campus tour in BAU, South Asia’s biggest agriculture university campus, in a rainy afternoon that brought participants close to nature. Needless to mention, the desire to taste special Bangladeshi cuisine by some of our food-loving participants was fulfilled.
Thanks to our BAU colleagues for their meticulous arrangements of the workshop.
For me as a new comer to VC and NSA the things I learnt were…..
- Thinking and working together with people from diverse backgrounds
- Got to know about different dimensions and/or facets of VC and NSA from other socioeconomic and cultural settings in Nepal and Bangladesh
- Learnt a great deal about life and livelihoods of people in general and the problems they face during informal discussions with other colleagues from Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Unstructured and largely informal settings allowed us to express our thoughts freely and comprehensively are the most interesting feature of the VC workshop 2017 in Bangladesh.
I work as Associate Professor of Economics in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. I am Co-Principal Investigator of the VC project under SIAGI and also co-supervisor of the Ph.D. scholar working on VC. My role in the project is to assist in theoretical and empirical research works being undertaken under VC project at IIT Kharagpur.