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Smallholders Bangladesh

Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh

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. 

In July 2017, Bangladesh colleagues issued a two-page summary of their activities. This was followed in December by the full SFB Review for 2016-17.

In August 2017, heavy flooding caused major destruction in many areas of Bangladesh. They included those in which we work, particularly with the poor Santal communities (see below). The Syngenta Foundation moved rapidly to help the Santals recover their shattered livelihoods. Here is what they and we did together. 

Impact study: In 2016, we ran a survey on our Farmers’ Hubs program. Here's the report.

Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh (SFB)

We do this by extending science-based know-how, facilitating access to quality inputs, and linking smallholders to markets in profitable ways. This adds value for rural communities, and sustainably improves food security.  

The Challenges

Demand from the agro-industry for food and raw materials is growing. However, farmers with low yields find it hard to benefit.  There is an urgent need to increase agricultural productivity. This can be achieved  through better crop management,  increased access to quality inputs, appropriate technologies, market linkages, finance for agricultural risk-bearing and risk-sharing, aggregation of produce to attract big buyers and a focus on commercial crops.

Bangladesh – the country

  • Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries. 
  • 162 million people live on 147,570 km2. 60% of the land is cultivable.
  • In the last 20 years, the nation has made considerable progress in poverty reduction and child malnutrition.
  • However, 48% of the rural population still live below poverty level.

Agriculture in Bangladesh

  • Agriculture is:
    • multi-faceted
    • labor-intensive
    • operates from a low technology and resource base.
    • contributes 19% of GDP
    • employs 47% of the labor force
  • 88% of farm households are "small or marginal", farming just 0.05-2.49 acres. 
  • Approximately 1.8 million farmers grow vegetables, a large majority of them commercially. 
  • Recently, value chains such as vegetables and potato have shown significant growth and appear to be highly competitive compared to rice.
  • Recent economic growth has helped increase farmers' income and the wages of agricultural laborers.
  • However, fragmentation of farm holdings, transfer of land use to other sectors and limited job opportunities in rural areas all contribute to the fact that food security remains a major concern.

Production will have to triple for the country to match international nutritional standards. To achieve this, farmers need capacity training and appropriate technology

Northwest Bangladesh

  • One of the poorest regions of the country.
  • Prone to natural disasters, such as floods and drought.
  • Most smallholders there currently lack access to value chains and would benefit from better links to markets.


  • Absence of storage facility: farmers primarily lack bargaining power because they cannot store their produce.
  • Middlemen: farmers sell their produce to wholesalers/hoarders, and therefore do profit from consumer prices.
  • Connections & communication: “How-to-sell” and “whom-to-sell-to” remain difficult questions for north-western smallholders. Working with big market players in Dhaka or Chittagong is hard, because the farmers lack logistics and fear manipulation by the city dealers.  
  • Transportation costs: farmers also don’t want to take smaller lots to other places because higher transport costs could cancel out the profit margin, if any.
  • Uncertainty: farmers cannot be sure to sell produce because it is perishable, and they lack market know-how.
  • Inadequate knowledge and skills: farmers are often unaware of improved cultivation and post-harvest practices.
  • Lack of access to equipment, quality inputs and finance: producers have difficulty in accessing quality inputs, because distributors and financial institutions are often reluctant to provide credit.


  • Improving market access of primary producers, to develop a market-led production system
  • Productivity enhancement of smallholders through technologies in a profitable way

The Projects
Goal: to Improve the livelihoods of resource-poor Bengali and ethnic Santal communities in north-western Bangladesh.

Farmers' Hubs Project

Sustainable Agriculture for Santals Communities

Registration and legal status 

Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh (SFB) received formal approval of registration as a non-governmental organization from the country's NGO Affairs Bureau on December 29, 2010 (Registration Number 2613). This followed registration by the Joint Stock Company of Bangladesh as a Society on November 18, 2009 (Registration Number S10522). Importantly, registration from the NGO Affairs Bureau enables SFB to receive foreign donations to implement its development projects in Bangladesh.