Salima Begum and her husband Moklaser are farmers living in northern Bangladesh. After years of struggling to grow enough to feed themselves and their family, let alone make a profit, they joined a local farmer group. The group offered training and access to services. Salima's now enjoying significant increases in yields and profits.
The farmer group has been set up as part of the Growing Together programme. Co-created with Syngenta, Growing Together is working to improve the livelihoods of 10,000 smallholder farmers in Bangladesh.
Salima joined the Kafrikhal Baluapara farmer group in November 2014. Initially, her husband, Moklaser, was not happy about her participation in the group as he didn’t understand its purpose or how his wife’s involvement could benefit their family.
However, Salima was slowly able to convince him that being part of group agronomic training, having a savings account and regular monthly meetings could bring great benefit to their family.
Before Salima joined the farmer group, Moklaser was growing yard long beans on one fifth of an acre of land. His cost of production was US$231 and his sale price was US$274 – giving them an equivalent US$43 profit for a month of hard work. Some of this profit would also be spent up-front, allocated to transporting the beans to local markets.
Access to training
Over the past two years, Salima has received regular training from the Growing Together team and group lead farmers via the use of the group demonstration plot allowing her to practice new techniques to enhance her yields in a risk-free environment. In 2015, Salima suggested to Moklaser that she should take on the bean cultivation and apply her new knowledge around planting techniques, pest and disease control.
In the same plot of land, Salima grew yard long beans. Her cost of production was reduced by 10% but her yields significantly increased. She sold the beans through the Farmer Centre for US$481 and achieving a $246 USD profit.
Salima explains, “By selling through the Farmer Centre I get a higher profit. Buyers pay 10-20Tk more per 40kg because they can buy in bulk from one place. It is easier for them and better for me. I also save money on transportation as the centre is just half a kilometer from my home. This has increased my dignity with my husband and we are making decisions about how to spend the money together.”
Investing for the future
In 2016, Salima and Moklaser made the joint decision to use their profits to purchase a cow and a goat. They also decided that Moklaser would lease more land and Salima should start homestead gardening. She’s now able to contribute to the family income using her new skills while also continuing to raise a family and run a home.
“I sincerely respect Salima’s dedication, hard work and willingness to learn. I am really grateful to the Growing Together program for making this happen,” says Moklaser.
Salima and Moklaser have now started to use their income to improve their home and family wellbeing. They have started to rebuild some of the bamboo walls of their house using bricks and have invested in some furniture. Her children are happier and attend school every day.
Salima says that she feels proud of her achievements and is developing a very positive status within her community
Find out more:
Schools around the world have begun to reopen, but the attainment gap for children will be wider than ever. VSO’s Lead Education Adviser Purna Shrestha outlines how to close it.
Bangladesh is one of the worst-hit countries in Asia for COVID-19, and its densly-populated Rohingya refugee camps have been highlighted as one of the highest-risk areas by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Anup Goon shares what he is seeing on the ground and how volunteers like him are fighting to prevent a catastrophic outbreak in the camps.
Mojo’s education ended abruptly when she was just eight years old. She had few prospects other than marriage at a very young age. But as Susan Martinez explains, one kind gesture has helped turn Mojo’s life around, with a ripple effect in the community.