Thursday, December 15, 2016

Strengthening the link between rice farmers and commercial buyers in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 24-26 November—A USAID-funded project to improve the rice value chain is helping 365 farmer organizations in southern Bangladesh to grow premium-quality crops to gain access to national buyers. This became evident during the recent 3rd Rice and Grains Tech Expo.

The project, Feed the Future Bangladesh Rice Value Chain (RVC), is developing the capacity of the farmer groups, composed of 10,500 farmer members, who grow the same high-value rice varieties, to produce their crops in bulk to attract millers and food companies to do business with them.

Joining RVC at the Expo was another project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), led by the International Rice Research Institute (photo). STRASA is speeding up dissemination of seeds of improved rice varieties to farmers in areas prone to drought, flooding, and other severe environmental conditions.

“South Bangladesh is one of the country's poorest areas and most vulnerable to cyclone-induced disasters,”  explained Tim Russell, RVC project leader. “It also has a much lower level of industrialization. So, all the national food processing companies have their bases, including mills and factories, in the northern and western parts of the country.”

Since RVC has spearheaded the creation of farmer groups with the capacity to grow crops and varieties in demand throughout the country, the processing companies are beginning to set up buying operations in southern Bangladesh.

At the Expo, the farmer organizations and their members had the opportunity to link with national companies that produce agriculture and forestry products, farm machinery, and new technologies for rice production and marketing. The buyers are primarily interested in purchasing Chinigura rice from the farmers who now have the capacity to grow this Bangladeshi aromatic variety in bulk, thanks to RVC's support.

Russell concluded that one of the country's biggest national processing companies is planning to establish a Krishi center in Jessore District. "It will act as a warehouse for storing products purchased from these farmer groups,” he added. “It will also serve as a training center for farmer-leaders and the company’s buying agents and staff members.” 

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