Women making a fortune with agricultural work

Under the harsh midday sun, Shanti Begum pushes behind the roaring engine of a two-wheeled tractor to plow a small plot of land next to their farm in the Jamira village of Jamalpur Sadar upazila as the women and children of the neighboring houses stand along the land and look.

This is what she has been doing for about two years to help her husband provide planting services to farmers who need to sow paddy, wheat, maize, chilli, brinjal and other crops, their earning a good amount of money with each planting. season.

“This Boro season, we have plowed 100 bighas of land and profited Tk 50,000 excluding a fuel cost of Tk 70,000,” Shanti told Business Standard.

Thus, the couple became independent. In 2020, the woman and her husband purchased the tractor, she added.

Shanti became the first woman in her region to be able to use such a type of seeder, which made her famous locally. After seeing the success of her business, many other women followed suit.

Like her Shanti, many women in the remote areas of the upazilas of Sadar, Dewanganj and Islampur also became agricultural workers alongside their male counterparts and contributed to their families.

During a visit to a few areas of the upazilas, many women were seen using seed drills powered by power tillers and many cultivating various crops in the fields, while their husbands did other work. In addition, many women were found tending to their home gardens.

World Vision Bangladesh is implementing a project titled “Nutrition Sensitive Value Chain for Smallholder Farmers” in 21 unions of three upazilas in Jamalpur. The project is supported by the Australian government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Programme.

The Australian government has invested $5.77 million in the project, while Unnayan Shangha works as an implementing partner. The six-year project began in September 2017 and will run until June 2023.

The men and women of 20,000 families have been involved in income-generating activities through this project. Some 800 producer groups have been formed with them. And 65% of those involved in income-generating agricultural work are women.

According to World Vision, just over 74% of households involved in the program have been able to increase their income. From production to marketing, they have developed a value that allows them to easily obtain agricultural inputs and sell their products.

It was found that families, who have now seen their income increase to Tk 17,500 or more, were previously earning Tk 10,000. With this income, they can now spend more on nutritious food, as well as on education and health care for their children.

Thanks to the nutrition-sensitive value chain for smallholder farmers, 76.4% of families in producer groups are now able to spend on the health of their children, compared to 45.1% previously.

Thanks to the activity of the value chain, 8.40% of the family of the producer group is able to spend on the health of their child. Previously, 45.10% of households in this group spent this.

Among these groups, 122 women have become entrepreneurs, many of whom have created a link with the market to buy agricultural tools under the project with a 25% subsidy on prices, obtain free quality seeds and receive training. in cultivation and for sale. of products.

Kamrunnahar from Kendua Syndicate of Jamalpur Sadar upazila, who bought a tiller for Tk 95,500 with a 25% grant from the World Vision project, told TBS: “It is possible to plow about 100 bighas of land each year at the using a tiller.

She also has a drummer. “With the income generated from providing services to farmers using these two machines, I am keeping my family’s expenses well.”

There are 108 community sales agents created from producer groups. They play the role of commercial agents to provide the groups with seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and also to sell their agricultural products.

Farid Uddin, a trade representative from Jamira village in Sadar upazila, says, “There are 219 producer groups in the area. If I can help farmers find wholesalers for 100 maunds of their produce, I will get Tk 800-1000 in commission.

The men and women of the producer groups grow paddy, maize, chilli and eggplant.

One of them is a Shikha who planted a variety of zinc-enriched rice on 20 decimal places of land this season. She received advice to plant such a variety of paddy because of her involvement in the project. She also grew peppers.

“We regularly receive advice and training on crop production and management. Again, agents bring us good seeds. That’s why production is improving,” Shikha said.

Another female entrepreneur, Mitu Akhter, said, “We are now calculating the cost from start to finish of agricultural production. Accordingly, after selling the products, we can see how much we earn.

Asim R Chatterjee, Nutrition Sensitive Value Chain Project Manager for Smallholder Farmers, told TBS: “We are working to increase agricultural production, create small entrepreneurs and develop regional value chains, in the aim of improving the standard of living of smallholder farmers.

Maria D. Ervin