Training in agro-processing activities in Bangladesh
Through diversification of food and income sources, as well as improved crop processing and storage, households are more likely to have something to fall back on if one area of their livelihood is disrupted. In Bangladesh, poor households were found to have only 6 months food security throughout the year when their agricultural labour was in demand. However during the ’lean months’ they had no income to fall back on and their households suffered from inadequate nutrition and food insecurity. These households were selected to develop skills to diversify their incomes so that they can afford food all year round. Training in Agro-processing was one of the options given to resource poor farmers in 2 districts in Bangladesh. Training in agro-processing enabled farmers to maximize the profit they make from their goods, the project trained farmers in food processing skills on specific products which are or can be easily marketable in the locality. Major products developed were chutney, pickles, sauces, chanachur (a type of snacks), muri (puffed-rice), candy, spice powder, banana chips and yogurt. These products can be sold for a much higher price than pre-processed goods.
By 2009 the project had trained 99 farmers including 35 women on food processing as part of the wider food security project (FoSHoL) in Bangladesh. The project also trained 341 farmers including 232 women on different agro-processing and marketing activities. A total of 140 demonstrations were also fielded throughout the project period.
Shahnaz (pictured above) lives in a village in Jamalpur with her husband and two young children. Her husband is an agricultural day-labourer; however his income is not enough to feed their family throughout the year. As part of the EU funded project ‘Food security for sustainable household livelihoods’ Shahnaz took part in training in food-processing, which included lessons on how to make chutney, pickle, and chanachur (a type of snack). She started her business with only 500 Taka to make tamarind chutney, produced by her and packed in small packets (photographed), to local shopkeepers. With the training provided she was also able to learn about packaging and marketing and sourcing local materials. Now she earns 10,000 taka per month and this income is used to support her family and send her children to school.