BRAC is set to introduce locally-produced sunflower oil by the end of the year, in a bid to expand market opportunities for farmers and reduce import dependency.
The oil, to be marketed under the brand name of Shufola, would be produced from seeds cultivated by farmers mainly in the Khulna and Barisal divisions, Mahabub Hossain, executive director of the non-governmental organisation (NGO), said yesterday.
“Increased production and marketing of oilseed will help us cut our import dependence on soybean oil,” said Hossain, adding that BRAC has already set up an oilseed crushing mill. The oil would be sold at Tk 160-170 a litre -- around 31 percent lower than the prices of imported sunflower oil.
The move comes with the view to establish market linkages for farmers who, encouraged by BRAC following cyclone Sidr in 2007, have been growing sunflower in the southern saline zone of the country for the past few years.
In the absence of buyers, the farmers have not been receiving a fair price for their produce, Hossain said.
"We are promoting adaptive technologies of climate change among farmers so that they can grow foods despite the negative impact of the phenomenon -- and sunflower cultivation is part of that initiative." Initially, BRAC took 300 acres of land to grow sunflower as demonstration for farmers. Encouraged by good yield, many farmers in the south followed suit.
During the current harvesting season, some 3,200 farmers, under the guidance of BRAC, have grown the oilseed on 4,000 acres of land, a 100 percent rise year-on-year.
The NGO provides buy-back guarantee in a bid to encourage farmers grow the oilseed, and has plans to bring 16,000 acres of land under sunflower cultivation by next season.
Hossain shared the information at a briefing on BRAC's initiatives to expand the use of climate change adaptive technologies to ensure food security for the growing population of Bangladesh, dubbed to be one of the worst victims of the global phenomenon.
As part of the initiative, the NGO also aims to expand cultivation of salt, submergence tolerance and short duration rice crops.