Around 10,41,000 farmers have directly benefited from a five-year long project funded by USAID.
Bidowra Tahmin Khan, team leader of the Rice and Diversified Crops Activity project, made the claim at a virtual press conference organised by USAID on Tuesday.
He said, "implementation of the project started in 2016 — with an aim to increase the income of disadvantaged people in rural areas and to ensure food and nutrition security for them — and is scheduled to end in 2021. In these five years, 10,41,000 farmers have directly benefited in many ways from the project."
"Farmers have benefited receiving various facilities including improved seeds, agricultural machinery, various agricultural services, market expansion, financing, and consulting. A total of 42 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were involved in implementing the project," Khan said, adding that NGOs took part in providing various services, including building a network of farmers in different regions, establishing connections, increasing technical assistance, jointly bearing costs, and enhancing cooperation with marginalised farmers of the country.
As a result, he continued, farmers have been able to increase their yield and income, cultivating rice, maize, groundnut, sesame, mustard, sunflower, and lentil through implementation of the project. NGOs have been able to increase their business as well.
"The project facilitated the establishment of new business ventures, expansion and development of marketing systems, and improvement of procurement processes in project areas for the welfare of farmers," he added.
Citing an example, Khan said in 2018, the project actively started in Damurhuda upazila of Chuadanga with an aim to expand the cultivation of Bri-50 and Bri-63 and to introduce modern agricultural machinery. In the project area, cultivation of these two varieties of paddy is constantly increasing. With these paddy varieties, Kanika Seed Company has created two brands of its own called Banglamati and Kanika Super Miniket. Thousands of farmers there are producing these paddy varieties, contracted by the company.
The press conference informed that both farmers and NGOs are benefiting from financing arrangements for the contract farmers, encouraging them to buy agricultural machinery, producing seeds and grains through contracts, and selling crops at good prices.
Among others, Jacob Morrin, Agreement Officer's Representative of USAID, Bangladesh, and Cuan Opperman, Chief of Party, also attended the press conference.