Innovations to Increase the Access & Production of Nutritious Foods in Bangladesh

Written by Rosylan Rojas

In the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, producing enough fruits and vegetables as well as storing fish in ways that are both affordable and safe pose many challenges. To tackle these problems, the Feed the Future Innovation Labs for Nutrition and Horticulture have  joined together to implement three unique aquaculture and horticulture technologies.

The first technology targets fruit and vegetable farming; with much of its land tied up in pond cultivation of fish, there is little room for smallholder farmers to grow produce in Bangladesh. In an attempt to overcome this issue, some fruit and vegetable farmers have constructed rafts of hyacinth to grow produce in floating gardens. Unfortunately, as the hyacinth begins to deteriorate, oxygen in the pond is reduced to a level that is deadly for fish. To resolve this dilemma, the labs have modified this ancient technique to use modern non-degradable material. This simple adaptation will allow floating gardens to exist on fishing ponds, while leaving the fish, another important food source, unharmed.floating.garden

A different, though equally challenging issue in Bangladesh concerns fish storage. Due to a lack of resources, refrigeration is not a plausible means for storing food. This has made drying an integral food preservation technique. However, when it comes to fish, the rate of drying by the sun alone allows for growth of bacteria that potentially make the food unfit to eat. Some fish farmers have resorted to dipping the fish in insecticide, which unfortunately compromises the food’s safety in a different way.  Thus,  two creative technologies have been developed that will increase food safety for fish storage. The first technique utilizes low-cost air-conditioned cool rooms, which will keep temperatures low enough to maintain food safety.  The second innovation in fish storage employs a solar dryer that increase drying speed, thus limiting growth of harmful bacteria.

These three exciting innovations will not only help farmers, but also will help improve consumer access to healthful foods in Bangladesh in an affordable and sustainable manner. Ultimately, these advancements also have the potential to reduce hunger and save lives.

Read more about our research efforts in Bangladesh