Swiss Ambassador visits the project "Making Markets Work for the Chars" in Gaibandha and Rangpur 

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Her Excellency Natalie Chuard, the Swiss Ambassador to Bangladesh, paid a three-day long field visit from 19-21 April 2022 to the northern char areas of Bangladesh for witnessing the lives of char-dwellers and the ongoing activities of Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C) project. Chars are hard-to-reach riverine islands formed through cycles of soil erosion and deposition by the river. Thus, households on the chars are deeply challenged by geographic isolation; limited or no access to financial services, education, and healthcare; and susceptible to various natural calamities. 

Dr. Syeda Zinia Rashid, Senior Programme Officer, Embassy of Switzerland, Bangladesh; Mr. Mujibul Hasan, Country Director, Swisscontact Bangladesh; Mr. Khalil Ahmed, Additional Secretary-GoB and Director General, Rural Development Academy (RDA); Dr. Md. Abdul Majid Pramanik, Joint Director-GoB and Project Director-M4C, and Mr. Abdul Awal, Team Leader, M4C also accompanied the Swiss Ambassador in this visit.

During the char visit on 20th and 21st April in Rajar Char, Kamarjani, Gaibandha and Dushmara Char, Kaunia, Rangpur respectively, the Swiss Ambassador met and discussed with the char farmers and service providers such as Contract Growers known as Trader Out-grower’s System of M4C, Livestock service providers and Poultry Vaccinator. She also observed crop cultivation and livestock rearing practices in char before attending a focus group discussion with char-based Agri-traders i.e., input company representatives, output traders and local MFI staffs to understand the benefits realized due to M4C’s activities in Agri-outputs/postharvest and financial services.

"I learnt a lot during the visit, not only on our Swiss intervention and partnership but also on the situation and challenges faced by the people living on the chars. I was really impressed by their perseverance and willingness to seize opportunities. I have also seen what a difference the project makes for the chars, and I really hope that its anchoring will work out as planned over the next years.""
Natalie Chuard, Swiss Ambassador to Bangladesh

On 20th April 2022, Her Excellency exchanged views with senior management of M4C project private stakeholders i.e., Agri-Input Companies, Micro-Finance Institutes, and Innovation partners as well as public stakeholders i.e., District Commissioner and Department of Agriculture Extensions at SKS In - Gaibandha. Before she met with Mr. Khalil Ahmed – Director General, RDA and Additional Secretary – GoB on the same day. During the stakeholder meeting Mr. Khalil Ahmed shared that “Not only micro-credit can change the vulnerable lives of char inhabitants, but we should strive to develop entrepreneurs, agriculture value chain and effective market linkage in chars through this project”

M4C is a project mandated by the Embassy of Switzerland and Ministry of LGRD and Cooperatives, Government of Bangladesh, and is implemented by Swisscontact Bangladesh and Rural Development Academy (RDA).

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C)
To reduce vulnerability and increase wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised char dwellers living in the northern char region of Bangladesh. Chars are riverine land, susceptible to erosion and soil deposition, which remain disconnected from mainland either seasonally or throughout the year. Due to this unique geographical positioning,...