IWET Saves Water & Boosts Farmer Incomes
Barind Tract, Bangladesh
Mangoes are very popular in Bangladesh. The country ranks seventh worldwide in production. However, most of the crop sells domestically. The main barrier to exports is poor quality. Bangladesh mango growers typically lack knowledge about chemical residues and about pests and diseases in ripened fruit. They also often over-irrigate, leading to the depletion of groundwater.
In 2018, SFSA Bangladesh began the “IWET” project: Introducing Water-Efficient Technologies. The work focused on mango growers in the Barind Tract area. The main aim was to minimize farmers’ use of groundwater by introducing Ultra High-Density Plantation (UHDP) practices combined with drip irrigation. But IWET also has a strong commercial side: UHDP raises mango quality to export-level.
SFSA Bangladesh provided technical know-how, training on production, post-harvest management and marketing. Our team also linked growers with technology partners to help produce for both export and the premium domestic segment.
UHDP helps farmers to use:
- The right amount of crop protection products at the right time (with support from local government agricultural officers)
- Appropriate fruit bags
- Year-round drip irrigation.
These measures all improve mango quality.
Successes so far
From 2018 to 2022, SFSA Bangladesh ran 120 demonstrations of Ultra-High Density Plantation (UHDP) with drip irrigation technology and high-yielding varieties mango. In 2023, total demo yield on 11 hectares is about 250 MT, more than 22.7 MT per hectare.
Profitability of UHDP with drip irrigation:
- Higher yield: The yield of a mature UHDP is 3-4 times higher than a traditional plantation. A UHDP provides higher yields through a higher number of trees per acre that outweighs the lower yield for each individual tree. Also, the high yielding variety can be harvested every year, whereas the traditional variety only can be harvested every other year. A new UHD- plantation provides its first harvest after 18 months.
- Reduced harvest and post-harvest loss: UHDP with man height (3 meter) trees minimises harvesting losses. In contrast, in a traditional orchard, harvest and post - harvest losses are about 25% due to mangos that drop during the picking process and less efficient pesticide application due to the higher tree height.
By 2023, seeing the good results along the way, 1415 farmers trained by the IWET project had set up UHD mango gardens. They were joined by 442 growers from outside the project. Together, these smallholders are now growing the fruit on about 810 hectares. In 2023, they are expected to produce more than 16,000 MT, with yields close to 19 tons per hectare. The key buyers are Farmers’ Hubs, the local agri-service businesses established with the help of SFSA Bangladesh.
These Hubs have already helped the growers score success abroad: In 2022, one of them supplied 500 kg of mango to a Turkish supermarket chain, trading via a major export company. It was the first of its kind to supply Bangladeshi mango to the Turkish market. This year, the same exporter has sold 1000 kg of another Hub’s premium mango to Dubai. Further buyers include well-known national store chains such as Unimart, Astha Super Shop, Fargo Mart and GamePlay. Farmers’ Hubs also aggregate large volumes for mango pulp producers such as Pran and Shezan.
After three years of planting mango saplings, farmers are harvesting mangoes from their UHD mango orchard. The SFSA Bangladesh IWET project team is working on linkage development with institutional buyers, and as a result, farmers are getting higher prices from the local market. The Nearest Farmers’ Hub is aggregating premium-quality mango for institutional buyers and exporters. Mango orchard owners are lighted to sell to the Farmers’ Hub because:
- getting a higher price than the local market due to premium quality (3-5 BDT more per Kg).
- Selling toll-free (in the local market must pay toll to leaser) (Save 10 BDT per 40 kg)
- Comparatively, transportation costs are lower to the nearest Farmers’ Hub than the local market.) (Save around 20 BDT per 40 kg)