FAO launched the report Farmers’ Organizations in Bangladesh: A Mapping and Capacity Assessment at an interactive event in Dhaka on 5 March, 2014.
The report was produced under the Technical Assistance Component of the Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project (IAPP) implemented by FAO-Bangladesh and financed by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP). The project’s work with farmers’ organizations (FOs) aims to enable farmers with meaningful and long-term participation in the investment programming process.
The report sheds light on the quantity, location, and purpose of FOs in Bangladesh; their capacities; the enabling environment they operate in; and common success factors. The report was written to fill a knowledge gap for those looking to work with FOs, strengthen their capacities, and engage them as true partners.
“It is the first attempt at a mapping of all the types of organizations which exist in a country as large and complex as Bangladesh. We hope that it is a useful contribution to strengthening organizations, and ultimately to improving productivity,” said Mike Robson, FAO representative in Bangladesh.
During the study, 198 114 FOs were identified. Of this number, 81 percent were formed with support from government agencies, 14 percent with support from national NGOs, 5 percent with support from international NGOs, and less than 0.01 percent – only 12 organizations – were formed autonomously. Just over 2 percent of all FOs are federated at any level.
These organizations face three main challenges to being involved in the investment programming process: i) the bulk of FOs are small (i.e. community level) and disconnected from each other; (ii) most FOs are externally promoted by government agencies, NGOs, and projects; and (iii) key principles necessary for the development of strong organizations are not applied consistently.
“I thank the FAO team for highlighting key principles necessary for the development of strong organizations. These are: autonomy, inclusive leadership, a strong membership base, needs-based service provision, and a clear, ‘owned’ purpose. I believe that it is very important we strive to ensure these principles are applied in all of our work with farmers’ organizations,” said Dr. S M Nazmul Islam, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of Bangladesh.
“The technical assistance component implemented by FAO is an important part of the overall IAPP. We are working together to develop the capacities of the IAPP community facilitators and field assistants to develop strong village organizations that will last beyond the closure of the project,” said Md. Nasiruzzaman, Project Director of the IAPP.
The launching ceremony brought together leaders from line ministries, agricultural extension departments, international and national NGOs, development partners, the private sector, and, most importantly, 24 FOs from across the country.
Alauddin Sikder, Secretary of Kendrio Krishak Moitree, one of the federated farmers’ alliances in Bangladesh, noted the practical applications of the report: “This report will help us in developing our network among the farmers’ organization for which previously we had no inventory.”
In addition to the launching ceremony, FO leaders also participated in a two-day sharing workshop to exchange experiences and further develop their network.