Integrating low-income farming communities of Bangladesh into the agricultural value chain
Agricultural-input company Partex Agro has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to improve the lives and livelihoods of 5,000 low-income communities by integrating them into its agricultural value chain as growers, suppliers and distributors by 2020.
The agricultural sector is the largest source of employment in Bangladesh, engaging 47 percent of the labour force in 2015 and comprising 16 percent of the country’s GDP. However, agricultural in this fast-growing economy is constrained by challenges including loss of arable land, population growth, climate change, lack of quality seeds and inputs, and a lack of credit support to farmers. Often, the prices farmers receive for their produce are lower than they should be, which traps farmers in a cycle of poverty.
Partex Agro is mitigating these challenges with an initiative focused on developing new crop varieties that are high yielding, adapted to changing climates and resistant to pests and diseases. This women-owned enterprise focuses on scientific research to develop and deliver innovative agricultural products, technologies and services aimed at enhancing food security. It is now scaling up its inclusive value-chain model in which farmers are engaged as suppliers, distributors, employees and consumers.
The main goal of this initiative is to improve lives and livelihoods in low-income farming communities by engaging farmers in producing high-quality seeds and high-yield crops that command fair prices and catalyze local entrepreneurship.
For its seed production, the company provides specialized training to seed producers, who sell the seeds they grow to Partex Agro at a competitive price. Partex Agro then sells these quality seeds to farmers, and provides them with training on sustainable agriculture and the optimal use of fertilizers as well as pre and post-harvest management. This year, the company also began buying back fruits and vegetables from smallholder farmers, which it can market through its sister food company Danish. This ensures a stable market – and therefore stable incomes – for farming families.
Along with research and development of new seed varieties, Partex Agro is educating farmers about the importance of sustainable agriculture. In addition, farmers are being engaged by the company’s distribution network as retailers, mobile seed vendors, and local service providers. The company provides credit and loan facilities to all its value-chain partners so that they can use good quality agro-inputs, apply modern technologies, expand their operations, enhance their business capacity, purchase livestock or improve the sustainability of their farms.
In its short span of operations, Partex Agro has become a trusted partner for development agencies like USAID, and has forged strong collaboration with universities, research organizations and other companies. By expanding and diversifying its businesses in the coming years, it expects to create more than 700 new full-time jobs.