To increase awareness and availability of quality vegetable seeds, Katalyst partnered with Lal Teer Seed Ltd, a leading Bangladeshi seed company, to extend its market in the char areas. Katalyst strengthened the distribution channels of quality seeds through appropriate value chain actors, such as dealers, retailers, and mobile seed vendors. The project also supported Lal Teer to conduct promotional activities to create awareness among small farmers; it also helped to ensure information about proper cultivation techniques reached the farmers.
Parul Begum is a homestead farmer of Char Muladi, Barisal. She has four decimals of land and is the mother of two daughters and two sons. Her husband works at a sawmill factory. One day she was sitting in her front yard, wondering how to make the best use of her land. A member of Lal Teer staff, Hasib, made an unexpected visit to the char and visited Parul's house. He later, helped her to set up a demonstration plot using the company's seeds to grow sweet gourd, ladies finger, cucumber and cowpea. Parul was provided with mini-pack costing less than BDT 25 (USD 0.3) of quality vegetable seeds, along with the relevant information about the cultivation techniques for each vegetable.
Following these methods, within 40 days of sowing the seed Parul had produced sweet gourd, cowpea and ladies finger. The cost of investment in the demonstration plot was BDT 1,200 (USD 14), which included seed land preparation, pesticide and irrigation. She got good yields, and she sold her vegetables at the local market for BDT 500 (USD 6), each month earning a profit of BDT 250 (USD 3). After one long year of hard saving, Parul had BDT 3,000 (USD 36). She then spent BDT 500 (USD 6) on seed and other inputs, and continued homestead vegetable farming in the following season. Parul's use of quality seeds and modern cultivation techniques meant that her yield has gradually increased.
"The whole village respects me, and Lal Teer organises regular community meetings in my yard; about 20-25 women come each time. I am happy to share the benefits of using quality seeds with them and I encourage them to do the same," Parul says. In 2016, using more of her profits saved from homestead farming, Parul bought a few ducks and chickens. Many women in Parul's village have been inspired by her example and have started to use quality seed for homestead gardening.
Katalyst, is a market development project which aims to increase the income of poor men and women, thereby contributing to sustainable poverty reduction in Bangladesh. Katalyst has been working in Bangladesh since 2003. The livelihoods of poor people depend on
market systems in which they are involved as labourers, producers, entrepreneurs and consumers. Often however, the poor are systematically excluded from these markets. Katalyst uses the approach of Inclusive Markets (Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) to break this vicious cycle of poverty. This approach identifies the barriers preventing poor people's participation in the markets and the root causes of this, and finds innovative solutions to overcome them in partnership with the public and private sectors.