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New GAFSP-funded project to strengthen farmer organizations in Bangladesh

30/05/2017

Creating sustainable and profitable farmer organizations is at the heart of a new project in Bangladesh – part of the Missing Middle Initiative (MMI) recently launched by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

FAO will be implementing the USD 2.48 million project in collaboration with farmer organizations. The project builds on the achievements of the GAFSP-funded Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project (IAPP), with FAO reprising its supervising entity role.

Working closely with the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, FAO had provided technical assistance to the IAPP, which ran from 2011 to 2016. One important outcome was the emergence of farmer organizations and the development of a network of farmer organizations.

“With this proposal for funding from the Missing Middle Initiative, which was driven by the farmers themselves, we’re looking at scaling up the good outcomes from the IAPP,” said Chase Palmeri, an FAO senior economist.

“That means strengthening these farmer organizations to become local institutions that can help their members access financing, technical knowledge, innovative technology, value chains and markets long after the project has ended,” she added.  

Good leadership and management

Working with local partners, FAO will carry out the new three-year project in the divisions of Rangpur and Barisal, with plans to reach around 50 farmer organizations.

Most of the organizations’ members – around 10,000 women and men in total – are small, marginal or landless farmers living in remote communities. Access to markets, financing, technical services and information is limited.

FAO will train the farmer organizations in governance, financial management, negotiations, communications and leadership, and introduce the principles of responsible agribusiness investments.

It will also promote peer-to-peer learning and exchanges, drawing on the valuable
lessons from exchanges organized to Kenya and the Philippines under the IAPP.

Linking to markets and financial services

Linking farmer organizations to markets is another important component of the project.

Using FAO’s RuralInvest toolkit and inclusive value-chain development approach, FAO will help organizations identify profitable business opportunities, prepare viable business plans and access the technical services needed to turn those plans into reality. 

This will involve developing strong ties with the private sector through the mobilization of public and private advisory services, trade fairs and buyer-seller meetings.

The project will also explore ways to provide farmer organizations and their members with access to existing mobile phone-based information services for agricultural production and marketing.

Finally, the project will train farmer organizations on how to select and access the financial services that best fit their needs.

Farmer organizations that have also been positively assessed will be eligible to apply for a small grant as seed capital for their organizations.

Longstanding support

FAO has more than four decades of experience working with farmer groups and organizations in Bangladesh. In recent years, FAO was closely involved in developing its Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. 

Through its technical assistance to the IAPP, the Organization developed educational materials for the country’s Food Policy Monitoring Unit and agricultural training institutes.

Thanks to the strength of the proposal submitted by FAO and its partners, this new project has become just one of five pilot MMI projects to receive GAFSP funding.

All five projects aim to stimulate greater investment along agricultural value chains and reach farmers more directly through smaller grants to producer organizations, civil society organizations and small and medium-sized enterprises.

 The initiative will involve a robust monitoring, evaluation and learning exercise to inform future GAFSP projects.

FAO is hosting the GAFSP Knowledge Forum from 30 May to 1 June 2017 at its headquarters in Rome.

 

Photo Credit: (c) FAO/Alessandra.Gage