Farm entrepreneurswill be able operate through ‘Better Life Farming’ centres, which will provide agri-inputs, crop advisory and market linkages under one roof to smallholder farmers.
Launched in Bangladesh on Tuesday, ‘Better Life Farming’ (BLF) initiative will support smallholders to earn additional farm incomes, said a media release.
The International Finance Corporation,the World Bank’s private sector window, Bayer, a global enterprise with expertise in seeds, crop protection, and agronomy and Netafim, anirrigation solution provider, launched the multi-stakeholder global partnership ‘BLF’ alliance in 2018 to provide holistic and innovative solutions for smallholder farmers in developing economies.
In Bangladesh, the BLF allianceincludes Bayer; IFC and ACI as the local partner to create awareness about precision irrigation, balanced crop nutrition and soil health, according to the release.
“We want to support smallholders in Bangladesh to earn sustainable incomes from their farms. Our agri-entrepreneurship model is designed to empower rural youth to be a part of the agri value chain and generate additional employment opportunities, Zahidul Islam, managing director at Bayer CropScience Limited, Bangladesh, told the virtual launch event.
“When smallholder farmers will succeed in generating higher incomes, it will increase the contribution of agriculture to our country’s economic growth.”
As per arrangement, the ACI’s chain super-shop Shwapno will work as an offtaker to ensure that smallholders get the right price and market access for their produce.
Thirty five BLF centres have been set up across the country with plans to increase the number to 50 by the year end. The BLF alliance is also designed to pursue a gender-smart approach by promoting women agri-entrepreneurs to serve women smallholder farmers.
The centers will be run by rural agri-entrepreneurs who will enable knowledge and technology transfer on good agricultural practices and deliver services such as market linkages, access to agri-inputs and crop advisory.
Each BLF centre will cover a group of 500 farmers from five to six nearby villages and also serve as a mini collection centre from where offtakers can collect agricultural produce, said the release.
Bayer, whichoperates as a joint venture with Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) and Bayer AG, will work with the IFC to promote financial literacy among smallholder farmers who aspire to be agri-entrepreneurs.
“We will measure the success of our initiative through economic, social and environmental impact that we create for smallholder farmers and their local communities,” D. Narain, global lead for Bayer’s Smallholder Farming initiatives, said.
Agriculture Secretary Md Mesbahul Islam presided over the virtual launch event.
Dignitaries who joined the programme included German Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz, former vice chancellor at Bangladesh Agricultural UniversityDr Abdus Sattar Mandal, and officials from the agriculture ministry and representatives from Bayer, BCIC and ACI.