Independence from Agricultural Corporations
Small-scale farmers make up about 90 per cent of all farmers in Bangladesh and make up even a larger share of the country’s food production . However, they face multiple disadvantages in comparison with the big industrialised agricultural estates. Most of the marginalised small farmers do not own land. They have to lease it from bigger farmers. Moreover, with the growing power of large corporations in the seed and fertiliser market, small farmers find it increasingly difficult to negotiate with those who control the business. At the same time, the shrinking of agricultural land and the effects of climate change put additional pressure on Bangladesh’s small scale farmers.
The project conducted by our partner Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) addresses these difficulties in the districts of Nilphamari, Bogra, Sathkhira, Chittagong and the capital region of Dhaka by developing alternative farming practices which combine traditional expertise with recent agricultural developments. Through participative research with local communities, RIB develops sustainable methods of soil and water management, organic fertilizers and pest control as well as seeds resilient to the effects of climate change. As limited access to resources often intersects with social exclusion, RIB focuses especially on the needs of marginalized groups like single women in agriculture, Dalit or the indigenous population.
RIB disseminates these findings through workshops, agricultural schools, international seminars and a broad range of publications to a wider audience. Furthermore, our partner advocates these innovative methods of farming with other NGOs, politicians and the general public to contribute to a shift in public opinion on food security: away from reliance on large companies and market liberalisation towards support for small-scale farmers, which will strengthen food sovereignty as well as income security for millions.
Research Initiatives Bangladesh was established in 2002 to address the lack of people’s participation in the country’s development policies. Through participative research, RIB develops modes of alternative agriculture based on local techniques and seeds, that ensure farmers’ independence from large businesses. They communicate their findings through seminars and workshops to a broader audience in rural Bangladesh, especially aiming at marginalized communities like Dalits and the indigenous population.