Smallholder Adaptive Farming and Biodiversity Network (SAFBIN)

SAFBIN is an action research programme from Caritas Organisations to address the issues of climate change and food security of smallholder farmers in South Asia. The programme aiming to achieve SDG 2, is inspired by the achievements and mutual learning process of the Caritas Partners in a successful previous phase of regional programme under the European Union Global Programme on Agriculture Research for Development (ARD).

SAFBIN is a multi-dimensional and multi-sector programme aimed to address the agricultural development challenges of developing and emerging countries. The innovative models piloted by the smallholder farmers from five rainfed Agro-Ecosystems (AES) in South Asia will be scalable and replicable in all similar Agro-Ecosystems. This programme will primarily contribute in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 of United Nations: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture in South Asia”.

The overall programme will benefit about 40000 people living in 165 villages of 21 districts in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The first phase of the programme will be implemented from April, 2018 in 95 villages of 11 districts, benefiting about 22000 people.

SAFBIN programme follows farmer led collective on-farm adaptive research, farming system and partnership approaches to empower the smallholder farmers in:

Caritas organisations part of this initiative are the official national organisations of the Catholic Bishops' Conference for social development in their respective countries. They are also members of Caritas Internationalis in Rome, which is a global confederation of 165 Catholic organisations working in humanitarian emergencies and international development. Implementing partners in South Asia are the members of Caritas Asia, which is also a strategic partner of this programme.

Caritas India, Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas Nepal and Caritas Pakistan will be implementing this programme in South Asia with the support of Caritas Austria and Caritas Switzerland. They will collaborate and partner with global and national research institutions, national agricultural research system and universities to implement this programme.


  • An on-farm study on the effect of honey bees in onion seed production

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  • 01/04/2016

Auditi Chokrabarti completed her Msc thesis research at the University of Development Alternative (UODA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Onion (Allium cepa) is an important spice crop in Bangladesh ranking first in production and second in area among the cultivated spices. At present, the need for a local increase of onion seed production is high, as most seed is imported. Insufficient pollination has caused difficulties in onion seed production. Honeybees are responsible for 70-80% of insect pollination.

Thus, this experimental design was set up to investigate the effect of honey bee vector on seed production of onion in Natore district, a rain-fed area of Bangladesh known for onion production.

The study was conducted on farms participating in SAF-BIN project in Baraigram (Natore district) during the winter season (05/11/2014 to 05/04/2015).There were two types of treatments tested always in comparison with a control on plots of approximately 400² (10 decimal). The treatments were 1) T1: honey bee box was tested in plot A, B, and C and 2) T2: without honey bee box as control plot D. Locally applied farming practices were used[1]. The onion variety Taherpuri, a local cultivar, was used. Data on scape length (cm), scape diameter (cm), scapes/bulb, umbel diameter (cm), flowers/umbel, no. of abortive flowers, bulb weight (g), seed/umbel (g), seed/plant (g) and 1000grain weight (TGW) were recorded. An analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was done.

In treated plots, the tallest main scape height (74±1.4cm), the largest umbel diameter (6.1±0.1cm) and the largest number of aborted flowers (31±2.0) was recorded in plots without honey bee box. The highest weight of TGW (2.8g), yield/plant (1.6g) ans seed yield/ha (0.04t/ha) were recorded on plot with honey bee boxes. A significant, positive effect of honey bees on onion seed production was observed.

The effective implementation of honey bees as vector for onion pollination in onion field could play an important role to increase the seed yield of onion which might help smallholder farmers in Bangladesh to produce their own seed in their own farmland reducing their input costs.

[1] Plowing: 4 times; weed and stubble removal before sowing; spacing bulb to bulb: 15cm, row to row 30cm, irrigation 3 times, weeding once; Fertilization: cowdung: 120kg/400m², 10kg urea, 8kg TSP (Triple superphosphate), 6kg MoP (mureate of potash)