FAO working to make smallholder farmers more economically competitive and resilient

Agriculture remains the most important sector of Bangladesh’s economy but it is being held back by a lack of economic competitiveness. The sector consists mainly of smallholder producers who often struggle to compete commercially and whose resilience to shocks and change is fragile.

The Smallholder Agricultural Competitiveness Project (SACP) is working to enhance the competiveness and resilience of smallholder farmer groups in Bangladesh. The project aims to increase farmers’ incomes by helping the producers diversify their crops, improve their productivity, and gain better access to markets.

FAO is providing technical assistance to the six-year project which is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

FAO is training 300 specialists from the Department of Agricultural Extension with an approach known as Participatory Rural Appraisal. The approach aims to incorporate the knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management of their family businesses, providing scope for all involved to learn from each other.

The government specialists will use the approach to motivate 10,000 farmer groups (of around 25 households each) throughout eleven districts in the targeted regions on the southern coast—those areas which are most vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. FAO Representative in Bangladesh, Robert D Simpson, visited one the horticultural training centres, in Mostafapur, Madaripur (Barisal), accompanied by SACP Senior Technical Advisor Craig Meisner.

Craig Meisner explained how the training will motivate farmer groups in addressing their problems. He said: “PRA is a window to the villagers’ world, allowing the groups to better interact toward a common village goal, whether it be to open new markets, better linkages to those markets, new high value crops, or sharing of innovative ideas.”

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations