Centro de inversiones de la FAO

Celebrating achievements in empowering Bangladesh’s smallholders


Bangladesh’s federation of farmer organizations the Sara Bangla Krishak Society (SBKS) has received the prestigious 2023 FAO Achievement Award

Rita Bramma, President of SBKS, said; “This achievement of the Sara Bangla Krishak Society belongs to all small and marginal farmers. The award gives a much-needed sense of unity and solidarity.”   

The organization – supported by FAO and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) – was recognized for its exemplary work in addressing the challenges faced by smallholder farmers through innovative tools, programs, and investments in value chains. 

Mohamed Manssouri, Director of the FAO Investment Centre, said; “SBKS has demonstrated remarkable capacity in servicing its member producer organizations and smallholder farmers, and in promoting sustainable agriculture.” 

Innovation to tackle climate impacts 

SBKS, serving as the lead Apex Producer Organization (PO) of GAFSP’s Missing Middle Initiative (MMI) in Bangladesh, is introducing innovative climate-resilient practices to rural communities, such as saline agriculture.  

This is particularly vital in Southern Bangladesh, which is highly exposed to saltwater intrusion from frequent cyclones and storm surges.  

Farmers are assisted to grow salt-tolerant crops, or trained to use techniques such as mulching which reduces salinity and retains moisture in the soil to save water. Farmers can access saline-tolerant watermelon, mung bean and groundnut seed varieties from ‘seed villages’ – agricultural communities set up to produce and distribute high-quality seeds and promote improved farming practices. 

Embracing digital agriculture to build resilience 

In another innovative move, village-based digital centres have been established by SBKS – with support from FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture – inspired by the government’s vision to build a ‘digital Bangladesh’, as well as FAO’s global 1000 Digital Village Initiative

In each digital village, a virtual call centre facilitates smallholder farmers to grow and sell their produce.  

“Our digital village service centers provide communities with agri-business information, using mobile banking apps and digital services,” said Morsheda Begum, SBKS executive member, digital literacy coordinator, single mother of three and livestock farmer. “We train young men and women in basic digital technology. Through a GAFSP-supported revolving fund, we also link individuals with banks through digital apps, so that they can access credit and banking services.” 

Despite climate and economic challenges, the robust network maintains 55 virtual call centers, 22 of which are run by women, and 55 digital villages.   

“With the support of GAFSP, we have introduced new digital financial tools to communities in a way that no other organizations have done,” said Beauty Khatun, treasurer overseeing the financial administration of the organization and savings fund, mother of two and dairy farmer.   

Strengthening agricultural businesses and distribution systems 

SBKS member organizations are empowered to create sustainable and bankable business plan susing RuralInvest – a free multilingual toolkit developed by the FAO Investment Centre.  

The SBKS network, supported by FAO and GAFSP, has also been working with the Department of Agricultural Extension, providing training to farmers in good agricultural practices as well as helping farmers to link to export markets, so they are better able to cope with higher agri-input prices – . 

Education on public health and nutrition is carried out by village service centers, supporting farmers to establish nutrition gardens containing essential and nourishing ingredients. 

“To mitigate nutritional deficiency, SBKS members are working to establish vegetable gardens within each homestead, to supply year-round, nutrition-rich vegetables,” said General Secretary Obydul Hoque, orchard farmer and circular agriculture pioneer.   

By focusing on sustainability, financial inclusion and nutrition, SBKS is embracing innovation to build more resilient agricultural businesses, distribution systems and communities in rural Bangladesh. 

Photo credit ©FAO Bangladesh