Meet the millennial who’s changing our farmlands

July 6, 2017 by

Peeking from behind the tin door is Ibrahim’s two-year-old daughter, Amena, in a blue polka dot dress, and a kitten in her arms. Another kitten appears and darts across the courtyard. Ducklings scatter about in panic.

Between his family, the cats, a parrot and 350 ducks, Ibrahim’s home is always buzzing with a little chaos.

Only 20 years old, Ibrahim is still a student in his second year in a BA course, but already a force of change in his community. He is a member of his local village development organisation, a community-based, self-help group. He grows vegetables in 350 decimals of leased land and rears 350 ducks. He is also a local service provider in his community, acting as a link between smallholder farmers like himself, to a local supermarket chain, Shwapno.

Ibrahim is a resourceful young man with his sense of identity deeply rooted in his land. His family had always been involved in farming, but he embraced the opportunity to take their involvement further. As a member of the VDO, he had access to training on agriculture and duck rearing, and loans to buy his ducks and start his own commercial cultivation. Now he earns over USD 150 (BDT 12,080) every week from selling duck eggs, and through his link to Shwapno, a giant supermarket chain, he sells his produce at a rate of USD 240 to 400 (BDT 3 to 5) higher than the market price.

“I want to make my farm much, much bigger”, he says with a smile, carrying his daughter in his arms.

Ibrahim with his daughter, Amena.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 80% of food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is produced by smallholder farmers. However, these farmers generally own little to no land, and lack access to other income generating activities. In addition, they also lack access to quality inputs and market linkages to consumer groups.

This is where Ibrahim steps in. As a local service provider, he collects the produce from other local farmers, and organises the transportation of goods to the supermarket where it is sold. This enables farmers to not only save time and money on transportation costs, but also sell their produce at a price often higher than the market price.

Local service providers like Ibrahim can drastically change the way farmers work. They can further facilitate these market linkages through the introduction of a collection point in their locality. A collection point acts as a link between producer groups and buyers, where the produce is collected, sorted, graded and then sold together. These points can inform producers about market prices and needs that could help improve the value chain. Local service providers would be key facilitators in collection points, providing a range of services from logistical support to technical assistance and training to producer groups.

Collection points will soon be introduced in Ibrahim’s village of Dhonokandi.

 

Zaian Chowdhury is a communications consultant at BRAC.