The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) conference on Revitalizing the Ganges Coastal Zone attracted leaders of development projects, donors, government policymakers, NGOs, and researchers from local and international research institutes. The participants shared plans, progress and ideas for unlocking the potential of the coastal zone.
Several scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) played key roles in organizing the conference. Dr. Manoranjan Mondal, collaborative research scientist under the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division and the Social Sciences Division of IRRI, chaired the organizing committee. Dr. Liz Humphreys, lead of the Water Science Group at IRRI, chaired the science program committee.
The first day of the conference featured the participation of policymakers led by Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Honorable Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources. With him were Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan, secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and Dr. Shelina Afroza, secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Director General of Bangladesh Water Development Board Md. Shahidur Rahman chaired the event. Other highlights included presentations from some of the large development projects operating in the coastal zone, presentations on the messages from the CPWF project by former IRRI scientist Dr. T.P. Tuong, and by Dr. Humphreys and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) researcher Dr. Marie-Charlotte Buisson, and "Voices from the Coastal Zone" (messages from local government representatives and farmers from the coastal zone).
This was followed by a two-day science conference which attracted over 100 participants who showed keen interest right to the end. Papers were presented on a range of topics including the past, current and future status of coastal zone water resources, the coastal environment, and water governance; opportunities for improving agricultural, aquacultural, and homestead production systems; and technology/cropping system extrapolation domains. Two IRRI scholars won prizes for their presentations - Nibir Saha (PhD scholar) was awarded the best early career scientist oral presentation by a panel of four judges, and Nefaur Rahman (MSc scholar) received the best poster award (people's vote).
The conference was jointly sponsored by the CGIAR Programs on Water, Land and Ecosystems, Aquatic Agricultural Systems, and the Global Rice Science Partnership. The conference, held in Dhaka on 21-23 October, also served as the official launch of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems’ Ganges Focal Region program. The conference proceedings, a peer-reviewed collection of about 40 papers, will be published in early 2015.
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