The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) of the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture have agreed to a multidisciplinary research, training and development partnership to help promote sustainable food security in the country.
The aim of the five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed on Feb. 10, is to advance knowledge and technologies for agricultural research and development in Bangladesh. This work will take place through a consortium jointly led by GIFS and BARC, the council which co-ordinates the National Agricultural Research System on behalf of the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture.
The consortium will work with partners in Canada and Bangladesh to deliver programs focused on enhancing farmer incomes, addressing the effects of climate change in Bangladesh, and strengthening the country’s delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“BARC’s vision is to develop an efficient, effective and sustainable system of agricultural research, promoting an increased standard of living for and well-being of the people of Bangladesh,” said Bangladesh Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Abdur Razzaque. “This partnership with GIFS will support our government’s plans to achieve this vision, and go a long way to strengthen Bangladesh’s relationship with Saskatchewan and Canada.”
The consortium plans to create an agricultural research centre in Bangladesh, in honour of Canada’s support during the Bangladesh War of Independence and the long-standing bilateral relationship between both countries.
The mission to Bangladesh included representatives from USask research organizations including: the Global Institute for Water Security; the Colleges of Agriculture and Bioresources, Arts and Science, and Pharmacy and Nutrition; and the Canadian Light Source, as well as from the National Research Council. GIFS plans to work with these teams to design and deliver diverse research, training and development programs.
“Collaboration is a key strength of GIFS, as we are able to bring diverse partners together to discover, develop and deliver innovative agriculture solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable, and have the social license to operate,” said Stephen Visscher (CBE), GIFS’ director of strategic partnerships and chief operating officer.A
“We are excited to be able to develop this initiative with Bangladesh, in a relationship that will enhance food security and support Saskatchewan and Canada’s trade strategies with key markets, while highlighting the strengths of our agriculture, research and development sectors.”
Saskatchewan is a leading Canadian agri-food exporter, with $13.4 billion in sales in 2018. Bangladesh is one of the province’s top 10 markets: 2018 exports totaled $306 million, with major exports being lentils, wheat, peas and potash.
“While Saskatchewan and Bangladesh may seem like they are worlds apart, we already have a long-standing trade relationship,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture David Marit. “I am happy to see that relationship extended to our research communities so we can build off of our strengths and work towards an agricultural future that can provide food security for billions.”
The visit to Bangladesh was preceded by a Bangladesh mission to GIFS in fall 2019, during which delegates toured USask institutes to learn about transferable research, training and development opportunities.
“Like Saskatchewan, agriculture is an important sector of Bangladesh’s economy,” said Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to Canada. “I look forward to the resulting shared knowledge from this partnership, which will help strengthen the sector even further and enhance quality of life in Bangladesh.”
The MOU was signed at a formal ceremony in Bangladesh, after months of planning and negotiations among GIFS, BARC and other partners.
“Canada and Bangladesh have a strong bond that goes back several decades and includes billions of dollars in bilateral trade annually,” said Benoit Pr(C)fontaine, Canada’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh.A “This partnership will further enhance our relationship and provide opportunities to share Canada’s resources and expertise with Bangladesh.”