Agri-business for Trade Competitiveness Project (ATC-P), branded as Katalyst is a market development project, implemented by Swisscontact in Bangladesh. Since 2002, the project has been working to increase the income of poor men and women in rural areas of Bangladesh. Currently, the project is in its Phase 3, which started from March 2014 and continues till March 2018. Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project sustained from 2000 to 2013. During 2017-2018, Katalyst is mainly focusing to consolidate and anchor the project's learning and experiences with key public and private institutions in Bangladesh.
Katalyst's approach is based on the premise that enhanced private and public sector business services, coupled with an improved enabling environment, lead to more competitive enterprises, sustainable economic growth and ultimately - poverty reduction.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with a population of 160 million. Approximately one third of these people live below the national poverty line, the majority in rural areas.
Economic realities, demographic characteristics and vulnerability to natural disasters make it very challenging to address poverty in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, there has been progress made in reducing poverty over the last decade. Life expectancy, literacy and per capita food production have increased significantly. With large-scale urban migration of the rural poor, poverty is increasingly present in urban areas, creating a social divide between the rich and the poor.
Bangladesh remains one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Frequent flooding of both rural and urban areas, increased saline intrusion into ground water, and droughts can be seen as consequences of climate change. The entire climate change scenario will have significant adverse effects on agriculture and threaten food security, livelihoods and the health of the rural poor in Bangladesh. In recent years, government and civil society organizations have adopted numerous policies and been proactive in raising public awareness. Foreign donors and development projects are coordinating with the government to implement the country’s climate change strategy.
Katalyst, in collaboration with both the public and private sector actors, is following a due diligence process (“do no harm” approach). Rural farmers are being introduced to various countermeasures, better farming practices and appropriate agricultural inputs. This is helping to increase incomes and protect farmers from the shocks and impact of climate change.