Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has been awarded a USD 899,000 grant by the United States Agency for International Development/Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA) for implementing a program to enhance food security and livelihood in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal. The three-year collaborative project involves 13 partners from five countries in Asia, namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal and Thailand.
The program, which will be implemented by Agricultural Systems and Engineering (ASE) and Regional and Rural Development Planning (RRDP) academic programs at AIT's School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD), is a part of the USAID program "The Agricultural Learning Exchange for Asian Regional Networking (AgLEARN)."
The project also aims to establish a virtual 'Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Agriculture Practices and Food Security' at AIT with a multidisciplinary team of AIT researchers and partner institutions capable for long-term contribution to enhance food security in the region. With the establishment of this 'Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Agriculture Practices and Food Security', the project will contribute to the development of an appropriate technology suitable for smallholder farmers.
Prof. Gopal B. Thapa of RRDP is the principal investigator of the project, and other members of the project include Prof. Ganesh P. Shivakoti, Dr. Peeyush Soni, and Dr. Avishek Datta from ASE academic program. The project will support three doctoral scholarships at AIT, one each for a student from Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Nepal.
According to Prof. Thapa, "The proposed project will contribute directly to two specific areas of strategic investment of USAID Feed the Future (FtF) initiative in Asia including increasing on-farm productivity; and increasing investment in market systems and value chains." It will assess technical and economic feasibilities of new technologies in target countries. The target focus will be on improving overall farm productivity through sustainable agricultural practices and on high-value low-volume vegetable crops to tap the potential niche markets.
The project also seeks to build local scientific and technical capacity through collaborative on-site capacity building activities, study visits, and capacity enhancement of concerned institutions, and personnel in the target countries through capacity enhancement of agricultural research scientists. The project focus will be on improving overall farm productivity through sustainable agricultural practices and on high-value low-volume vegetable crops to tap the potential niche markets.