According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), agriculture provides livelihoods for 68% of Nepal's population, accounting for 34% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Swisscontact Nepal, through the Sahaj – Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme (NAMDP) project funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is working to further improve this contribution to the GDP in the Province 1 of Nepal. The programme focuses on Province Number 1 (the far-most eastern province). NAMDP’s objectives are based on a vision of a thriving and inclusive agriculture sector, aiming to grow employment and income for Nepal’s rural population in remote locations.
Understanding inclusive Market Systems Development
To learn and create further room for improvement, NAMDP arranged an official visit to Bangladesh with a team of six GoN personnel. The objective of this visit was to understand how the iMSD (inclusive Market Systems Development) principles explain, in theories, large scale and sustainable development impacts, and in practices, shape up the development outcome of remote locations like that in the chars, through an excursion on Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C) project of Swisscontact Bangladesh funded by the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh and the Government of Bangladesh.
The team from Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of Province 1 and federal Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) of GoN arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 12th June 2022 with Reema Shrestha, Deputy Team Leader – NAMDP and Bishnu Prasad Kafle, Manager – Business Enabling Environment, NAMDP from Swisscontact Nepal.
The following government personnel were in the team:
Swisscontact Bangladesh initiated the official visit with a welcome dinner on 12th June 2022 with the presence of Mr. Manish Pandey, Director – South Asia, Swisscontact, and Mr. Mujibul Hasan, Country Director – Swisscontact Bangladesh. On 13th June 2022, the visiting team with workshop organiser Ms. Tahmina Islam Sadia, Officer – Business Administration and Ms. Pritam Azra Hassan, Senior Officer – Communications and Portfolio Development from Swisscontact Bangladesh travelled to Bogura under the leadership of Mr. Fazle Razik, Team Leader – ASTHA, Swisscontact Bangladesh.
On 14th June, Mr. Fazle Razik introduced the iMSD approach to the Nepal GoN team through a detailed interactive workshop. After the knowledge dissemination workshop, the M4C team invited the visitors in Rural Development Academy (RDA) Bogura. From RDA, Dr. Md. Abdul Majid Pramanik, Project Director, M4C, Md. Khalid Aurongojeb, Director (Admin), Mr. Md. Faruk Hossain, Upazilla Supervisor, and Noor Muhammad, Assistant Director, facilitated the visit.
They gave the visitors an overview of RDA and then a tour in the RDA vicinity while sharing information on the latest agro-machineries, technologies and agro-processing mechanisms. In the same day, the Nepal team visited a light-engineering workshop where most of these agro-machineries are locally made and customised.
From M4C, Mr. Yasir Arafat, Senior Manager – Partnership and Grants, Md. Rabiul Hasan, Cluster Manager, Utpal Kumar Dutta, Manager – Public Sector Engagement, Abhijit Kumar Roy, Senior Consultant – Field Implementation, Md. Mojaherul Haque, Consultant – Anchoring and Institutionalisation, Nahid Farhana Rahman, Officer – Administration and Finance, and Mr. Md. Asaf Ud Daula Ashik, Consultant, Monitoring and Results Measurement joined the visit.
On 15th June 2022, with the M4C team, the visitors travelled to Gaibandha Char to witness the evolution of the char and the char dwellers’ living standard. From SKS Foundation Mr. Md. Hafizur Rahman Sekh, Intervention Specialist of M4C, Mr. Chandra Nath Gupto, Senior Intervention Officer of M4C, and Ms. Fatema Tuzzahara, Accounts and Admin Officer of M4C supported the team in the char visit.
The Nepal team witnessed the implementation of iMSD approach in person. The overall excursion was a learning opportunity for both the Nepal and Bangladesh teams, as the knowledge that was exchanged can be benefitted at both ends.