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TV serial enriches farmers' lives in Bangladesh

03 July 2009

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Jiboner Jolchobi, a new television series aired on mainstream channel in Bangladesh, is equipping farmers with useful information and technologies to boost agricultural production. The programme focuses on food processing, savings and credit systems, grassroots services and disaster risk reduction.

TV serial enriches farmers' lives in Bangladesh
Image credits: Commodity Online / A scene from the serial
Dhaka: In an innovative move to help communicate messages to improve agricultural production and the welfare of Bangladeshi farmers, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has produced a soap opera that is now airing on Bangladesh television.

The TV drama series, Jiboner Jolchobi, is about a local journalist who, much to the dislike of his hard-nosed news colleagues, compiles stories on the struggles of farming families and communities for better livelihoods.

“TV drama serials, also known as soaps, are immensely popular in Bangladesh,” said Dr. Mohammed Zainul Abedin, IRRI’s representative in Bangladesh.

“We developed Jiboner Jolchobi as a way to communicate some key messages about how farmers could improve their lives by adopting new agricultural technologies,” he added.

Each episode has an individual theme focused on delivering useful information to Bangladeshi farmers in an entertaining, enjoyable, and engaging way.

“Some of the topics Jiboner Jolchobi addresses are ways to help avert monga, how a small business such as food processing can change lives, the benefits of small savings and credit systems, and becoming a local service provider as a plant doctor or chicken vaccinator,” said Dr. Abedin.

Feedback from the first few episodes has been positive, with local viewers able to send in comments via SMS.

In Vietnam, IRRI was involved in a similar media campaign called Ba Giam, Ba Tang, which used a radio drama, a television drama, a 30-second TV commercial, posters, flyers, and extension efforts to promote reductions in unnecessary and costly inputs into rice production.

“As a result of the Vietnam campaign, insecticide sprays declined 13–33%, seed and fertiliser rates dropped, and farmers’ beliefs about the value of high inputs changed,” said Dr. Abedin.

“The reduced inputs resulted in similar or higher yields and net incomes, and the health of farmers and the environment also improved," he added. "We hope Jiboner Jolchobi will deliver similar positive results.”

"Jiboner Jolchobi was produced as part of the Food Security for Sustainable Household Livelihoods project"

Ba Giam, Ba Tang and an environmental soap opera for radio won multiple awards including most recently the United Nations – Habitat Dubai International Award for Best Practices.

Jiboner Jolchobi is now airing on ATN Bangla every Wednesday, except July 15, at 5:30 p.m. until August 5. If Jiboner Jolchobi is successful, IRRI will consider developing future series for Bangladesh TV.

Jiboner Jolchobi was produced as part of the Food Security for Sustainable Household Livelihoods (FoSHoL) project funded by the European Commission.

FoSHoL is implemented by ActionAid Bangladesh, CARE Bangladesh, and Practical Action and is coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

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