This profile was prepared when Saha Sukanta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
During his work with low-income communities Saha Sukanta became aware that three main factors lead to malnutrition: low and inefficient levels of food production, relatively high cost of protein sources, and lack of knowledge of nutrition. Saha also knew that Bangladeshis prefer animal proteins such as meat, fish and eggs to vegetable protein, yet are unable to afford sufficient amounts of such foods to ensure a healthy diet. Thus, Saha realized that he needed to find an alternative source of low-cost animal protein, educate people about this protein source, and create markets for this alternative protein and its by-products. Saha's answer is rabbit farming, a concept that had not been considered before in Bangladesh. His proposition is economically attractive, for it requires a low initial investment and produces high returns within a short time frame. Since rabbit meat is high in protein, yet requires less input per pound than cattle or chicken, it provides both economic and nutritional incentives for production. With proper institutional support it can be disseminated successfully to a large number of people in the poor rural areas.