A new mobile crop clinic opened its doors this June in Amtoli, a village in the Barishal District of southwestern Bangladesh. Bayer Crop Science recently began offering agricultural services from the clinic, which is one of several clinics that make up Bayer’s unique approach to providing farm advisory services to rural farmers in Bangladesh. This approach is facilitated, in part, through a partnership with the Feed the Future Bangladesh Rice and Diversified Crops (RDC) Activity. Funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, the RDC Activity aims to improve incomes and food security in the Feed the Future zone of Bangladesh.
By the end of 2019, Bayer had established one structured crop clinic and two mobile clinics in Patuakhali. Farmers from roughly 20 villages receive services from these three clinics. But because of the current COVID-19 crisis, fewer farmers are able to safely travel to the clinics. To reach them, Bayer’s crop clinic advisors are now traveling to local villages every day.
From mid-June to mid-July, Rashedul Islam, a crop clinic advisor in nearby Patuakhali, organized a number of in-person meetings for farmers as part of his mobile clinic activities. He aims to keep farmer attendance at about 10 people per meeting to maintain social distancing.
During his visits to six villages, he met with several female farmers who manage their own betel leaf farms. Even when he was not present, Rashedul received phone calls from three to four female farmers a day seeking advice on their betel leaf production.
He provided 30 kilograms of the rice seed variety AZ 7006 for demonstration plots to show other farmers cultivation tips and best practices. And he is sometimes accompanied by a Department of Agricultural Extension sub-assistant, who helps him promote the Bayer Crop Clinic.
To reach even more farmers during COVID-19 restrictions, Bayer will soon introduce smartphones provided by the mobile network operator, Robi Axiata. The RDC Activity partnered with Robi Axiata to provide affordable smartphones to its 35 crop clinic advisors. Each smartphone will come with a user-friendly messaging app similar to WhatsApp called Krishi Bhai.
This access to technology will allow crop clinic advisors to be part of a larger Bayer digital platform and communicate seamlessly among themselves, linking them with other field supervisors and sales teams. Advisors will also gain access to a multitude of audio-visual content from Bayer that they can share with the farmers during their visits.
Learn more about the Feed the Future Rice and Diversified Crops Activity.
Learn more about our work in Bangladesh.