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Deals inked to launch projects to help haor farmers, tackle rabies

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City Desk :
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Relations Division (ERD), Ministry of Finance, have signed agreements for an emergency food and nutrition project in the Haor region, as well as a project to reduce rabies in Bangladesh. The "Emergency support to strengthen food and nutrition security of communities in Haor areas through innovative food systems approaches for reducing propagation of Covid-19" project is funded by the Government of Japan.
The other project entitled, "Strengthening capacity towards rabies elimination in Asia", is a regional technical cooperation programme project, a FAO press release said.
Dr Nahid Rashid, Additional Secretary (UN), Economic Relations Division and John W Taylor, an interim FAO Representative in Bangladesh, signed the agreements on behalf of their respective sides.
"The Haor project will help vulnerable farmers in the Haor wetlands who are suffering at this critical time because of the Covid-19 crisis and extreme floods. The rabies project, meanwhile, will help Bangladesh reduce the numbers of infections of this potentially lethal disease by developing capacity for rabies control," said John W Taylor.
FAO will implement the Haor project in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Extension of the Ministry of Agriculture. Other collaborating government partners are the Department of Livestock Services, the Department of Fisheries of Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Department of Bangladesh Haor and Wetlands Development, the Ministry of Water Resources. The project will boost agricultural productivity in two key rice-producing districts in the Haor wetlands while ensuring safe conditions that will reduce the spread of Covid-19. Without support, the targeted 75,000 beneficiaries would likely slip below the ultra-poor poverty level.
The two districts - Netrokona and Kishoreganj - have a cropping intensity below the national level. They were ranked second and third respectively as National Priority Geographic Areas based on physical, socio-economic, and disaster vulnerabilities in the recent Covid-19 Multi-sectoral Anticipatory Impact and Needs Analysis, conducted by the UN's Humanitarian Coordination Task Team.
The Japanese Government's contribution provides an opportunity for FAO to support the Ministry of Agriculture through the Department of Agricultural Extension by providing a model for maintaining food production amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The project is strategically aligned with the 7th Five Year Plan: Agricultural Development/Research, as well as the Government's Mater Plan for the Haor Area. The Japan government will contribute US$ 11,20,000 (BDT 9,5 0,88,000) to fund the quick impact project that will be implemented over ten months. FAO is implementing the rabies project in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Department of Livestock Services and the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute. Bangladesh is one of four countries (along with Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) where the project will be implemented.
The project will improve the effectiveness of rabies control programmes, strengthen the capacity of the Central Disease Investigation Laboratory (CDIL) of the Department of Livestock Services and establish a Rabies Action Centre for Excellence (RACE).
Rabies is a very serious infection of the brain and nerves. The disease is usually caught from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, most often a dog. Rabies is found throughout the world, particularly in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. In Bangladesh, dogs are the main rabies transmitters and bites are common due to the large number of strays. There have been few initiatives in the country to increase public awareness of rabies.

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