In Bangladesh, there is a critical need to develop Farmer Organizations (FOs) and, at the same time, there is an opportunity to do so thanks to the results of the IAPP by building on the FOs with which the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO have been working. This project will render the farmer organizations into sustainable partners to work with private sector companies for the benefit of their smallholder farmer members. In doing so, the project will provide the Government of Bangladesh with a model for sustainable outreach to farmers and village-level organizational development that it may scale up.
This Missing Middle Initiative (MMI) pilot project works in Rangpur and Barisal Divisions to enhance 55 smallholder farmers' organizations’ capacities in governance, financial management, negotiations, communications, and leadership, thereby benefiting 10,000 smallholder farmers. As one such approach, the project links the farmers to the market through pilot activities that take them through a process of identifying profitable opportunities and an enterprise for engaging in selected agricultural value chains, learning about financing options and how to select and access financial services that fit farmers’ needs, preparing business plans to capitalize on those opportunities, and accessing the technical advisory services needed to implement the plans. The project also provides a matching grant of US$15,000–20,000 to farmers’ organizations for developing sustainable enterprises, subject to meeting agreed standards of institutional maturity and the presentation of a viable proposal for using the resources.
- Access to Finance
The project has directly benefited more than 9,000 smallholder farmers, of whom 62 percent are women. All farmer business facilitators have provided assistance to farmers’ organizations in the areas of financial and organizational management and virtual call center (VCC) operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This support was provided by phone, online, and through limited face-to-face training.
Sara Bangla Krishak Society (SBKS), a national organization of farmers’ organizations, runs 57 VCCs in northern and southern Bangladesh, one embedded in each farmers' organization plus two at the regional level (Barishal and Rangpur). As of the end of December 2020, more than 6,500 producers have benefited from the VCCs. So far, 42,128 calls have been received for selling products, 22,566 calls for buying inputs and 16,712 calls for technical advice. On average, 202 producers (48 percent female) benefitted from the VCCs each day. Among them, 62 producers sought technical advice from VCC operators and received assistance by being connected with relevant service providers or advanced farmers. These producers cumulatively have received 42,128 calls to sell products, 22,566 calls to buy inputs, and 16,712 calls to seek technical advice. Notably, through the VCCs, producers sold approximately BDT 48.02 million (US$564,980) of produce and purchased BDT 8.76 million (US$103,084) of agricultural inputs.
GAFSP Coordination Unit: