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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

“Even Amongst Cultural Differences, Farmers All Over the World Are Very Similar…”

Improving Conception Rates in Bovine Artificial Insemination in Bangladesh

F2F Volunteer, Dr. Melissa Mason

Dr. Mason observing collected bovine semen in the laboratory at the EJAB Alliance Limited Bull Station.

During my normal appointment in the United States I help teach and promote bovine artificial insemination to help small farmers increase the genetic potential of their herd. After doing this for several years, I thought it was time to broaden my awareness of artificial insemination in other parts of the world and travel to countries that I could help develop or improve artificial insemination programs. I am returning from my 1st Winrock International/USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) assignment in the northwest region of Bangladesh in Thakuragon.

A Sahiwal bull introducing himself at EJAB Alliance Limited Bull Station

During my time in Thakuragaon I visited the EJAB Alliance Limited bull station where they collected semen to sell for artificial insemination as well as train artificial insemination workers. My assignment was to make recommendations on the bull station facility and semen handling as well as provide re-training for the artificial workers over a two week period. As soon as arriving at the bull station I felt immediately in my element and the professional staff was very accommodating and friendly. I conducted a three day professional training workshop that was centered on the facility and lab recommendations for the bull station as well as discussing future research opportunities with professors from the nearby Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University regarding embryo transfer. During my day off I was invited to speak at the University regarding current research techniques and possibilities in embryo transfer research in front of professional staff and students. I then conducted 2 two day artificial insemination worker trainings. Over the two separate workshops there were approximately 60 attendees. We spent time in the workshop concentrating on the artificial insemination technique and semen handling as these two areas had been identified as possible reasons for lower conception rates amongst the artificial insemination workers. However, a variety of topics were also covered, including infertility issues and reproductive diseases that seem to hold a large interest in the current workers.

Dr. Mason presenting on the technique of artificial insemination and semen handling during one of the two day trainings for local artificial insemination workers.

Even though a language barrier existed and it was difficult to communicate one on one with artificial insemination workers, I had tremendous help with interpreting from our assigned Winrock technical officer as well as the professional staff that were working at the bull station. The hospitality of EJAB Alliance Limited staff at the guesthouse where I stayed was amazing and went above and beyond getting all of the necessities for a two week stay. The professional staff at the bull station and I became quick friends and when the assignment was completed, it was sad to leave the new friends that were made. Even amongst cultural differences, farmers all over the world are very similar in that they are very hard working people who are proud of what they have been able to accomplish with their time and dedication. The experience of working in agriculture for the first time overseas for me was amazing and I am planning on returning for a second assignment in the near future.