The Honorable Minister, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Minister of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, had a fruitful meeting on 11 December 2023 with the scoping mission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headed by Mr. Nafis Khan, Senior Programme Officer, South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST), FAO.
The primary objective of the scoping mission was to identify areas for the potential provision of technical assistance and implementation support to the Program on Agricultural and Rural Transformation for Nutrition, Entrepreneurship, and Resilience (PARTNER), in Bangladesh. PARTNER is a joint loan project with a financial envelop of USD 543 million, funded by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Through rigorous multi-stakeholders’ consultations with the 22 implementing agencies, contributing agencies, strategic partners and other stakeholders, such as the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the mission analyzed the different deliverables assigned to each of the agencies, in order to spot potential areas for technical assistance and implementation support provisions for PARTNER.
The weeklong consultations provided a platform to reassess existing capacities, potential for FAO’s support, as well as joint opportunities for key players of PARTNER to synchronize their activities, to achieve overall targets of the program, labeled as ten Disbursement Linked Indicators.
A wide range of national experts and officials participated, such as institutes, entities of the Ministry of Agricultural and the CGIAR member institutes.
During the meeting, the Minister provided a comprehensive overview of the country’s agricultural sector. He highlighted several areas where Bangladesh has achieved remarkable results in ensuring food sufficiency, despite a prevalence of financial and other challenges.
The efficient usage of water remains an issue, but the country has continued to improve the performance of its agricultural sector, for example, by increasing vegetable production, harvesting and processing, and by enhancing the rice value chain. The country does, however, still need to focus on the improvement of storage and market access. In addition, improving rice productivity and main crops for sparing arable lands for marginal crops, such as oilseed crops, was also highlighted.
The Minister showed keen interest in stepping up collaboration with FAO, by requesting immediate support from FAO to implement the PARTNER.
The Minister was briefed by Mr. Nafis Khan on the overall deliverables of this ambitious Program and the probable areas of collaboration. The Honorable Minister conveyed his appreciation of FAO’s support and acknowledged the long withstanding partnership between Bangladesh and FAO in dealing with the agricultural development of the country. The mission reiterated FAO’s continued support to Bangladesh, one of its esteemed member states.
It was agreed that the FAO mission will submit a detailed gap analysis, including a concept note, with a clear set of recommendations on the way forward to engage with the government, focusing on leveraging South-South and Triangular Cooperation in support of the implementation of PARTNER.
Earlier that week, the Honorable Secretary, Ms. Wahida Aktar of the Ministry of Agriculture was given an appraisal of interim progress by Mr. Nafis Khan, based on the findings from the different sessions of the consultations between the scoping mission and the team from the Ministry of Agriculture.
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