Cartoon Calendars: Bangladesh

Over the years of the project’s investigations SEAT has learnt a lot about the state of the aquaculture systems in the focus countries. The project findings have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and policy meetings have been held within the countries for law makers, private enterprises and other stakeholders. Not all the stakeholders, particularly the small-scale farmers who have been at the heart of the project, have access to these platforms and so SEAT has devised a novel way of disseminating the project’s finding to those who can make use of them.

Working in collaboration with professional, local cartoonists in Bangladesh, China and Vietnam, Worldfish has created calendars displaying key messages/lessons from the project, specific to each of the countries. These calendars are being distributed to farmers, shops and farmers clubs etc to reach the widest possible audience.

Here Dr. M. Mahfujul Haque explains about the Bangladeshi calendars and introduces the cartoonist, Biplob Sarkar.

The 12 chosen messages were split into two themes. The first six (covering January to June) were those that would be of direct use to the farmers and at the farms level:

1)    How to avoid health risks while handling chemical and other inputs,

2)    How to adopt good aquaculture practices which can increase farm productivity,

3)    Outlining necessary measures to be taken if there is a disease outbreak on the farm,

4)    To avoid the use of poultry and other animal feed and stop it being supplied to the farm,

5)    Explaining the importance of the proper use of chemicals on the farm as recommended;

6)    The value of using Pangasius pond sludge for as good fertilizer for vegetable production.

Examples of the images explaining the importance of good aquaculture practice

Examples of the images explaining the importance of good aquaculture practice

The next six messages (July to December) were focused on European attitudes to seafood consumption to help bridge the gap between producer and consumer:

7)    The European dependency on farmed seafood supplied from Asia;

8)    Changes of social reality and food consumption behaviours of Europeans over the last 50 years;

9)    Europeans’ understanding on seafood as healthy, light and nutritious;

10) Outlining the diversity of food behaviours of the people between and within European countries;

11) The importance of food safety to the Europeans;

12) How information about seafood flows to Europeans and confusions that can/have arise(n).

The biggest challenge was finding a way to make the messages understandable to the farmers. The SEAT partners working on social and economic dynamics (WP5) held a discussion regarding what sort dissemination materials could be produced. Finally, it was decided to make calendar and poster with cartoon illustrations and so Dr. Froukje Kruijssen (WorldFish) who was leading the Work Package contacted a professional cartoonist in Bangladesh.

The cartoons were drawn by Biplob Sarkar (42), a professional illustrator who has worked with several different organizations over the last 15 years and currently, working for a private organization in Dhaka. Over the years, he has produced various dissemination materials for both formal and informal education, health and social awareness in Bangladesh.

Cartoonist Biplob Sarkar

Cartoonist Biplob Sarkar

Born in the Khulna, the southwest district of Bangladesh (where a major proportion of shrimp is produced) Biplob has studied (and degrees) in fine art and graphics from the University of Dhaka. Despite this commission being the first aquaculture related cartoons he has drawn, that he came from such an important shrimp producing region and his experiences made him perfect for the aquaculture illustrations.

As well as the calendars, about 100 posters will also be produced and these combine all the messages together. By January, 2014, these will be placed in different public places across the major shrimp producing areas of southwest Bangladesh.

"Field testing" the calanders

“Field testing” the calanders

From July through to November (2013) we “field tested” the dissemination materials with a variety of shrimp farmers, and after several edits, the visual illustrations in the forms of both calendars and posters were completed. The calendar was designed for 2 years (2014-2015) integrating both the English and Bangla calendar together, it’s hoped that this will increase uptake of the messages to a greater extent . It’s hoped that 2500 calendars will be produced, these will then be distributed among 20 communities where SEAT worked for the last four and half years. The stakeholders include farmers, local government Fisheries Officers and other value chain actors etc.

This work was a new experience to everyone in the team, particularly to the Bangladeshi partner (BAU). Moving forwards, there is a plan by the local partner (BAU) to monitor and assess how the farmers are using the message in terms of knowledge and practice. Another project working under another of the partners, WorldFish, in Bangladesh has shown the possibility to print these dissemination materials for an even wider coverage in South West Bangladesh for an even larger proportion of the region’s 250,000+ farmers.

Photo © Loni Hensler