Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bangladesh: 'InfoLadies' undergo training to help rural women use agri technologies

The USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project in Bangladesh held a 3-day training for 'InfoLadies' that sought to transfer agricultural technologies to rural farmers, particularly women who face social, economic, and cultural challenges, through the use of information technology.

An InfoLady is a rural woman entrepreneur trained and equipped with a bicycle, netbook, and other accessories. She travels from village to village and from household to household to provide ICT-based services to rural women who lack access to basic information on health, agriculture, and education. The InfoLady also provides information assistance on legal advice, job search, market linkages, government services, and others.

The InfoLady model was set up in 2008 by a development organization called D.Net, with other community organizations, with the aim to reach women in Bangladesh, most of whom face mobility constraints and cannot access opportunities to improve their lives. The InfoLadies are trained for three months on how to use computers, printers, cameras, and the Internet.

The 17 InfoLadies are located mainly in the Rangpur Hub, although some of them who participated in the activity come from the Jessore and Khulna hubs.

CSISA-BD aims to tap into this resource of lively women who can help transfer improved technologies methods to a wider audience for wider production and food security as well as generate income from marketing the technologies.

The training program covered the following topics: improved and intercropping cropping systems, fertilizer management, maize varieties, management and application, rice-based postharvest technologies,basic aquaculture and pond management, cage aquaculture, horticulture, and and nutrition education.

It also included field visits to showcase the application of the technologies. The program ended with a day-long session on entrepreneurship development including bookkeeping, business plan, andcustomer satisfaction. Further income earning and business options from the use of the leaf color chart and moisture meter, cage-making, and quality mini-packet vegetables seeds were also introduced and provided to the women.

The training event was a collaboration of 3 CGIAR centers—IRRI, CIMMYT, and WorldFish—and was held at the Spandan Training center in Mymensingh on 26-28 February 2013. 

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