As part of continued efforts to combat the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives of marginal farmers, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) have started distributing homestead vegetable gardening (HVG) inputs and processing equipment among 50,000 smallholder farmers from seven coastal districts.
IFAD has provided grant funding of US$ 2 million (Tk 17 crore) in two phases from its Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) to complement the government of Bangladesh’s efforts to prevent food crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic.
RPSF Phase II builds on the support provided by IFAD to farmers last year under Phase 1. Each micro-gardening kit contains six kinds of high-quality vegetable seeds, including tomato, spinach, red amaranth, carrot, brinjal, yardlong beans, and a set of four recommended fertilisers.
Farmers from Pirojpur, Jhalokathi, Barguna, Patuakhali and Bholaare receiving not only agricultural input support, but also training on sustainable agronomic practices to produce nutritious crops on the small homestead plots, said a press release of IFAD on Sunday.
Additional farmers from twelve upazilas in Chattogram and four upazilas in Khulna will receive harvesting clippers and plastic crates to ease harvesting, storing and transporting of produce.
Particular emphasis has been placed on empowering women, with female farmers receiving appliances necessary for processing and packaging various spices and the requisite training on hygienic processing.
While inaugurating the distribution, Md Mesbahul Islam, Senior Secretary, MoA said, “we have become more or less self-sufficient in food grain production, now the government is emphasizing on the production of nutritious food – vegetables and fruits.”
“Southern Bangladesh has challenges in vegetable and fruit production due to natural disasters, water logging and saline intrusion in soil. IFAD programme supporting smallholder farmers in the coastal belt endeavors to minimize the challenges by providing trainings, agricultural inputs and technology,” he added
Sherina Tabassum, IFAD’s Officer-in-Charge for Bangladesh said, “IFAD is happy to be a part of the economic recovery measures being taken by the Government of Bangladesh in supporting the smallholder farmers living in remote coastal areas where poverty, hunger and malnutrition have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
Launched in April 2020, RPSF aims to achievefood security and resilience of poor rural people by supporting production, market access and employment during the crises brought on by a global pandemic.”
“This initiative supports the farmers in homestead cultivation enabling them to produce early varieties of vegetables and fetch higher prices. The inclusion of the female farmers will help to increase their additional income, improve dietary diversity& micronutrient adequacy, and ensure family nutrition,” she added.
The RPSF grants are channeled to the smallholder farmers through the IFAD and Government of Bangladesh financed Smallholder Agricultural Competitiveness Project (SACP) that is implemented by the MoA.
With a total financing of US$111.81 million, SACP is being implemented in 30 upazilas of 11 coastal districts in Bangladesh. The project aims to increase the incomes and food and nutrition security of 250,000 smallholder and marginal farmers by helping them be more responsive and competitive in producing diverse, high-value crops and marketing fresh and processed agricultural products.