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Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C)

More than two million people live in northern chars* of Bangladesh who mainly depend on agriculture (crops, livestock) and seasonal labour opportunities for their livelihoods. Weak market institutions, lack of information and higher costs of operation make the chars "less attractive" destination for public and private investment. Building local market institutions and enhancing private and public services to improve the economic conditions of the char dwellers is therefore central to M4C's approach.

M4C aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability of northern char households, by facilitating market systems for enhancing opportunities of income generation. M4C is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Government of Bangladesh. 

 

M4C focuses on three major intervention areas namely input supply and production services; output market and post-harvest/processing services; and financial services targeting both crops and livestock farming households. M4C supports large companies (agro-input, agro-processing, financial institutions, etc.), public agencies (research, extension, etc.) and local market actors (distributors, retailers, traders, etc.) to expand to peripheral char markets; and provide their products and services.


M4C addresses cross-cutting themes like women's economic empowerment, disaster risk reduction, governance and conflict-sensitive programme management in project design and implementation. M4C also supports the Char Development Research Centre, a specialised center of Rural Development Academy, dedicated for improving the livelihoods of the char dwellers, to institutionalise information,
knowledge and lessons of M4C; this is to create awareness, and mobilise initiatives and investments from public and private sector, beyond the project period.

Results

M4C promoted 20 business models and supported more than 1 500 service providers e.g. agro-input companies, distributors, retailers, trailers, microfinance institutions, etc. to promote 60 services e.g. distribution and promotion of quality agro-inputs, post-harvest/processing information and services, seasonal loans for crops and livestock, etc. 25 of these services were DDR-relevant and 20 services targeted women.

 

Until November 2019, M4C benefitted 124 000 char households with an additional income of 20.7 Million CHF which is equivalent to BDT 154.4 Crore.

Benefitted char housholds used the additional income to reduce their vulnerability and improve family wellbeing i.e. house renovation, better consumption, sending childern to schools: reinvestment in agriculture and trading, cultivation area expansion, asset/capital accumulation.

Infograph

Project Journey, Key Achievements and Future Pathway
> Link

Lessons

  • Successfully attracting private investment in a thin market context requires piloting different business models and longer project duration.
  • Promotion of a portfolio of diverse livelihood options and complementary interventions (input, output and finance) over a long period creates a stronger and lasting economically beneficial impact in the lives of char dwellers.
  • The likelihood of autonomous expansion (beyond M4C working areas) of private input business network or microfinance services in chars of other districts is low due to high setup cost.
  • Investing in creation of a group of local entrepreneurs (in and around chars) is imperative for better linkage with output markets and delivery of post-harvest services.
  • Successful internalisation and anchoring of M4C approach (of poverty and vulnerability reduction) requires-a) resourceful dedicated unit in CDRC, b) comprehensive strategy for Char development and c) leadership and championing from senior management of RDA and RDCD.

Swisscontact
Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zürich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97
E-Mail info@STOP-SPAM.swisscontact.org