We are getting ready for the 6th Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA) summit! It is taking place in conjunction with the 45th Annual Summer Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA on August 10, 2019 from 8:00 – 9:30 am and 10:00 – 11:30 am! You can see the full program here.

One of the speakers will be Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Hossain, winner of the OFIA Award in 2011 with his innovation of growing organic vegetables in sacks for food insecure families in Bangladesh.

Innovation

In 2009, for the first time in Bangladesh, an experiment was conducted in Gazipur district to study growing vegetables using the sack gardening method. The objectives of the experiment were to improve food security at household level, increase household vegetable production and consumption, and to generate income. The method contributes to a more balanced household consumption, and generated income from the sale of vegetables. The idea found resonance among the communities, and had good uptake.

Description

The innovative approach of gardening vegetables in sacks by utilizing the vertical space, which takes up little space on the ground offers an alternative to traditional vegetable gardens. Polyethylene grain bags sized 100 x 80 x 40 cms were used as containers for growth. Each sack was filled with soil and cow dung mixed in 2:1 ratio. Some wood ash was also mixed with soil. A sixth of the sack towards the bottom was filled with dry leaves for holding moisture. Some gravel was placed at the bottom for good drainage. Different combinations of vegetable seedlings were planted on the top, and into three tiers of holes made on the sides of the sack.

Relevance

Landholdings are minimal, and cultivable space is limited in Bangladesh. It is one of the country’s most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Even though Bangladesh is nearly self-sufficient in grain production, the poorest people still struggle to have a balanced, diversified diet with adequate minerals, essential amino acids, fats and vitamins. Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

The current vegetable consumption in Bangladesh is a mere 45 g/day/person, compared to the recommended daily intake of 220 g/day/person. The experiment showed that individual families can grow a wide variety of vegetables at a minimal cost in a limited space. In the crowded living conditions, farmers found it practical that the bags could be moved around.

The method helps increase vegetable production and consumption at household level, enhance food security and generate income. Sack gardening has the potential to be replicated in spaces like urban gardens or roof gardens anywhere in the world using local crops.

About the OFIA Award

Every three years, at the Organic World Congress (OWC), IFOAM – Organics International, the the Rural Development Administration (RDA) the Republic of Korea, and the IFOAM Technology Innovation Platform (TIPI) award outstanding organic innovators with the Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA). OFIA is an initiative of the government of the Republic of Korea in remembrance of the 17th OWC held in 2011 in its Gyeonggi Province. The next OFIA Award will be at the OWC, September 2020, in France. We will share the calls for nominations in due course.

Read 6th OFIA summit full program
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Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Hossain, The Innovator  

Dr. Hossain is a Bangladeshi national working for the Agriculture Department of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) in Tokyo, Japan.  He is a pioneer of integrated rice-duck farming technology and organic vegetable production in sack technology in Bangladesh. Dr. Hossain received the grand prize of ‘Organic Farming Innovation Award’ (OFIA) from IFOAM – Organics International and the Rural Development Administration (RDA), South Korea in 2011.

In the previous blog posts, you’ll find posts exploring extraordinary innovations, organic policies, scientific research and expert opinions on organic. Check them out!