The Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh (SFB) first received official government registration in 2011. In December 2017, SFB's status rose to "International NGO". The new registration level enables our team to operate as a fully-fledged country office of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. This status change helps our organization to, for example, explore external funding to scale up initiatives.
Agriculture in Bangladesh
The agricultural and rural sector in Bangladesh plays a vital role in the sustained food and livelihood security of its large and ever-growing population. Over 160 million people live on a landmass measuring 147,570 km². Bangladesh is predominantly an agrarian country. Due to its very fertile land and favorable weather, varieties of crops grow abundantly in this land. Sixty percent of the land is cultivable. In the past 20 years, the country has made great strides towards a reduction in poverty and child malnutrition. However, in rural areas the poverty rate still stands at approximately 26 percent, roughly 2 percent higher than the rate in urban areas. The agriculture sector contributes about 17 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 45 percent of the total labor force. However, each and every year it loses about 100,000 hectares of productive agricultural land through conversion to non-agricultural uses. Bangladesh is transitioning from its designation as an LDC (Least Developed Country) to an MIC (Middle Income Country). Therefore, meeting its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a key priority for Bangladesh and ensuring food security through agricultural development is its prime concern.
Challenges for agriculture in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, smallholder farmers make up the largest sector of agriculture workers. Lack of access to training in up-to-date agricultural practices and appropriate technologies means that these farmers often work at a subsistence level. Agricultural extension services are inadequate and modern machinery is often unavailable or difficult to access. An inefficient value chain and an unstructured market system hamper the efforts of farmers to get the best from their efforts. The impact of climate change, already becoming evident in the agro-ecosystem of the country, creates an additional challenge. Lower yields and poor-quality crops are the inevitable result. This, in turn, lessens the potential income for small and marginal farmers, bringing negative consequences for them and their families.
Work of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in Bangladesh
The role of the Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh (SFB) is to create value for resource-poor small farmers through innovation in sustainable agriculture and the activation of value chains. It does this currently in three ways:
- Integrated Agri-Support Project (IASP) – This focuses on agricultural solutions for smallholder farmers from input to output. The Farmers’ Hub is a business model which works on the idea of providing a concentration of commercial units where agricultural products can be aggregated. Farmers in the locality benefit from improved access to agri-products, machinery, training and know-how.
- Sustainable Agriculture for Santal Community (SASC) - resource-poor and marginalized ethnic Santal people are involved in a range of commercial group-based activities, such as roadside planting, livestock-rearing and homestead gardening. The aim is to impact lives and livelihoods by enhancing opportunities to improve nutritional and economic status.
- Commercialization of Small Scale Mechanization (CoSMec) – this project facilitates smallholder farmers’ access to farm mechanization services by developing a market for sustainable local service provision.