Increasing Access to Markets & Services: Market Development
One of the largest challenges in diversifying livelihoods on the chars is the lack of significant markets, and in particular the difficulties that the poor face in accessing those markets that do exist. The Chars Livelihoods Programme (CLP) is implementing several projects to make markets work for the poor by providing training and assistance to producers and service providers, in order to stimulate both demand and supply. These projects work with all members of the community, regardless of whether they are core participant households (CPHHs) of the CLP.
Market Development during CLP-1
Between 2004 and 2010, the first phase of the CLP (CLP-1) piloted more than 30 innovative projects in fisheries, agriculture, livestock and non-farm sectors. Of these, the milk marketing, poultry rearing and fodder production programmes were selected to be scaled up. In the course of the programme more than 39,500 poultry producers and nearly 18,000 milk producers were trained, and fodder production involved up to 6,600 producers annually, with production of up to 15,000 metric tonnes. 387 Livestock Services Providers (LSPs) were trained and over 95% are earning at least Tk 3,000 (£30) per month1. In 2006 Village Savings and Loans Groups (VSLGs) were introduced to provide financial services to the extreme poor, who are often ineligible for microfinance. By the end of CLP-1, VSLG membership was over 35,600 and savings losses were less than 0.01%
Market Development during CLP-2
By 2016 CLP-2 aims to support 16,000 new entrepreneurs, at least 50% of whom will be women. Over 640,000 person days of training will be provided to producers of milk, poultry and fodder. The programme will establish 6,000 VSLGs with 130,000 members from both CPHHs and non-CPHHs. 307 new LSPs and at least 500 poultry vaccinators will be trained. The CLP is also investigating options in developing a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) component.
Livestock Service Providers (LSPs)
The quality of livestock products is strongly related to the health of the animal, and animals need to receive the right nutrients, remain free of parasites and be vaccinated against disease. To ensure that char dwellers have access to these services, the CLP trains local people as LSPs. CPHHs receive vouchers to redeem against LSP services (such as deworming, vaccination and artificial insemination). Training livestock owners on the importance of these services helps to maintain demand once assets begin generating income and CLP support is withdrawn.
1 McIvor and the Hussein (2011), A Study to Assess the Livestock Services Providers under CLP-1
An LSP on her rounds, with a vaccine cool-box
Nutrition is a key component in livestock productivity, and production of fodder generates income for producers while improving the availability of adequate, quality food for livestock - especially during floods. Production is based around jumbo grass, a crop that has high market value but low input costs. Producers are trained in crop management, silage production and marketing.
This project aims to increase the quantity of milk supplied to large liquid milk processors, and the price obtained for that milk. Small dairy farmers are encouraged to form informal co-operatives to organise transport to local markets or negotiate with local collectors. LSPs assist in group formation and provide training and diet supplements to increase milk production and fat content, and prevent stunting of calves.
Poultry rearing is an inexpensive, low-risk "backyard business" that is ideally suited to the chars. The project trains CPHHs as poultry vaccinators, who can supply feed, vaccines and advice to poultry producers on improving productivity. The system has two main components: use of improved commercial feed and use of model houses with different chambers for chicks at different stages of life. Model producers are trained as examples for the wider community.
Village Savings and Loan Groups (VSLGs)
Char dwellers are often ineligible for credit from microfinance institutions (MFIs), and MFI coverage is weak on the chars. To address this, the CLP has established VSLGs, which are open to CPHHs and non-CPHHs.
VSLGs are groups of 15-25 women, each of whom regularly contribute to a savings fund. This fund is then used as a source of loans for members. At the end of each annual cycle, the accumulated savings and interest are shared out among the members proportionate to their individual contribution of savings over the period. The CLP facilitates VSLGs for two years, after which they are expected to continue without CLP support.