Agro-based entrepreneurs getting support from US volunteer experts | The Daily Star
03:27 PM, April 20, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:31 PM, April 20, 2021

Agro-based entrepreneurs getting support from US volunteer experts

Engagement of volunteer experts from USA with Bangladesh's agro-based entrepreneurs has initiated USD 42,000 investments in improving food-safety in relevant industries since 2018.

Access to market and gross sales of these entrepreneurs have also increased up to 15-20 percent.

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This exchange of knowledge and technical expertise was made possible by USAID's "Farmer to Farmer Food Safety and Quality (F2F FSQ) Programme" implemented in cooperation with Land O' Lakes Venture37.

Another development programme of USAID named "Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture Activity" implemented in collaboration with World Fish has injected USD 409,315 in the local aquaculture feed market which generated USD 1.4 million profit for the investors and boosted access to 25,781 metric tons of fish feed.

Finance amounts to USD 1,019,492 have been leveraged to small fish farmers through digital banking.

These information were shared on a virtual press conference today by the project leaders and technical experts who were involved in implementing these projects.

Md Maksudur Rahman, Bangladesh Country Director, USAID F2F Food Safety and Quality Program said, "Collaboration of expert volunteers from the USA with Bangladesh's small to medium sized agro-based entrepreneurs have significantly increased food safety, expanded their market access and sales and made them self-reliant and resilient."

For instance, Oggro Dairy is a farm in the Gazipur district that produces, bottles and delivers milk to households.  

Through F2F FSQ programme the farm obtained support of quality assurance managers from the USA and with their support it has significantly improved sanitation of the farm and ensured safe collection, packaging and transportation of the produces.

Thanks to these improvements, Oggro Dairy has secured a new order agreement to supply milk to Fresh Milk which has increased their annual sales by USD 45,471 since the previous year.

So far, 14 Bangladeshi organisations like Oggro Dairy has received support from 19 volunteer experts from USA, the press conference was told.

Under "Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture Activity" programme, World Fish has trained 9694 farmers, 77 percent of whom are female, on Carp Mola poly culture technology, a method of growing small fish along with carp in the same pond and improved their hygiene and nutrition practices.

About 1,000 farmers have received training on financial literacy for increased productivity, income and profitability and 513 farmers received new loans through this program.

Fifty dry fish sellers who received training on safe dry fish production and selling has made USD 1176086 sales turnover thanks to this training.

Anar Khalil, Acting Chief of Party of World Fish said, "We have been working to introduce Carp G3 which grows 30 percent faster than normal carp which may significantly increase Bangladesh's fresh water fish production."

Regarding the challenges and constrains of working with agro-based entrepreneurs, Anar Khalil said, "Still small farmers have low accessibility to loans from banks and non-banking financial institutions. They are also not accustomed to supply fish according to size, specifications etc. COVID-19 has also imposed many challenges such as delay in transportation and lack of storage facilities."

"Another significant obstacle is after addressing food security issues, our growers do not get premium price for their produces. Our customers are still reluctant to pay extra for safe and secure foods," said Md Maksudur Rahman.

"In this regard, F2F FSQ has signed an MoU with Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) to positively create and impact the enabling environment to ensure and maintain food safety and quality for the agro-food industries," he adds.

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