Farmer organisations are often neglected and not incorporated in formal poverty-reduction initiatives.
In a welcome departure, government on Sunday rolled out a USD 2.48 million project which will involve up to 10,000 farmers and 55 farmer organisations (FOs) in developing their capacity to establish market linkage and accessing finance among other things.
The project – ‘Missing Middle Initiative’ (MMI) will be implemented over a three-year period with the amount provided as grant by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).
GAFSP is a multilateral mechanism to assist the implementation of pledges made by the G20 countries in Pittsburg in September, 2009.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, Senior Agriculture Economist of GAFSP-MMI, Washington DC, and the UN FAO Representative to Bangladesh David W Doolan were joined by other senior officials at a launching workshop of MMI held at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) auditorium on Monday.
Stakeholders at the heart of this initiative are FOs mainly in Rangpur and Barisal Divisions which have recently begun to develop into local institutions that assist members to increase incomes.The project will initially work with about 6,000 farmer members of some 45 FOs supported by the GAFSP-financed Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project (IAPP). The project will gradually include additional 4,000 non-IAPP farmers and 10 FOs over the three years.
The MMI project is aiming at empowering FOs so that these can provide their members with access to value chains, markets, technical knowledge and financing.
The move comes at a time when Bangladesh Bank officials provided the workshop audience with statistics that show banks in Bangladesh have already distributed 77 percent of their mandated Tk. 20,400 crore farm credit in the current fiscal (2017-18) but farmers attending the workshop decried widespread irregularities in agriculture loan sanction.
Farmers alleged often they are not welcome in banks and have to return with banks not sanctioning farm credits to them. Particularly the women farmers said they face more hurdles comparing to their male peers in getting agriculture loan sanctioned from banks.
In response, Bangladesh Bank’s Joint Director responsible for loan division Md Shahid Reza provided them with a hotline number – 16236 – to call and register their complains. He promised the central bank will take initiatives to resolve the problems by responding to the complains.