Programme profile

RDC: Rice and Diversified Crops Activity

Programme Index Listing

Location
Bangladesh
Main implementer
ACDI/VOCA
Other implementers
Action for Enterprise (AFE)
Donor
USAID Feed the Future
Duration
2016 - 2021
Total budget
USD $24,480,000
Annual budget
Variable
Contact
Mark Sevier, Technical Director, Market Systems and Partnerships: Msevier@acdivoca.org
External links
ACDI VOCA website: RDC
Agent banks COVID resilience

Project description / objective

To increase rural productivity, incomes and food security in the agriculture sector through systemic market changes that promote a diversified farming system based on intensified rice production and the introduction of higher-value, nutrient-rich crops. 

Market systems focus

Rice

Rice is a staple crop in Bangladesh. Primary production is of low yielding and value bold grain varieties. Farmer incomes could be improved through access to fine and fragrant seed varieties, improved crop husbandry practices and input use, as well as access to support services.

Maize

Maize is a high-value crop, planted in rotation with rice. Farmer incomes could be improved through the utilisation of high-yielding hybrid maize seed, improved crop husbandry practices and input use, as well as access to support services.

Pulses

Pulses, particularly mung bean and lentil, are grown in rotation with rice. Normally considered a marginal crop, access to improved seed and bio-remedies can increase yields of these nutritious crops by more than 20 per cent.

Oilseeds

Oilseeds (sesame, groundnut and sunflower) are grown in rotation with rice. Oilseeds offer farmers a high value crop alternative to pulses.

Support market systems

Support market systems (access to finance, mechanisation and ICT) are essential to the efficient functioning of crop value chains and enhance profitability and expansion of the sectors.

Programme interventions

Access to inputs and services

Improving agricultural inputs and service models

  • Partnering with agricultural companies to make productive agricultural inputs and services more accessible to farmers - such as suitable, climate-appropriate and higher-value seeds, bio-remedies, and crop protection products.
  • Supporting firms to enter into or expand their product offering and service into Southwest Bangladesh. This was done through a combination of de-risk grants and customised technical assistance that enabled companies to scale new input service delivery models through better tailoring products to farmers, developing more integrated models, and scaling communication channels that drove consumer demand for improved inputs.
  • Connecting local research institutes with private sector companies to scale improved seed varieties, zinc rice, bio-remedies, and complementary services.

Improve connectivity

Strengthen connectivity between firms and farmers. This activity leveraged learning, knowledge and linkages obtained from implementation to guide and enhance firms’ engagement with farmers and expand firm level service offering.

  • Conducted research on constraints and opportunities in target systems and asked partners to come up with pilot innovations to test solutions to strengthen their connectivity with farmers.
  • Strengthened linkages between institutional buyers and input suppliers.
  • Strengthened the performance of buyers' supplier base, in terms of quantity and quality.
  • Scaled the use of digital platforms to expand sales, coordinate and transact.
  • Supported the utilisation of women as sales/marketing/training agents to expand sales to women.

Enhance and expand support services

Develop commercially viable support systems.

  • Increased farmer demand for mechanisation services by supporting companies to organise awareness programmes.
  • Improve and expand the quality and reach of promotional ICT content.
  • Expanding financial service providers outreach to rural areas by supporting banks to test agent banking, micro-merchant services, small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) banking, and financing models for agri-machinery and equipment purchases.
  • Develop the business case for gender, youth and nutrition-sensitive business models.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)
 

The Canopy Lab concluded an Outcome Harvest of the RDC Activity in December, 2021. Revisiting the OH exercise with a systemic change survey after a longer time period would elicit more extensive and deeper outcomes and discover more evidence of significant behaviour and relationship changes among the Activity’s partners and other market actors.
High level themes emerged from the outcome harvest:

1) The Activity extended and deepened market actor engagement in south-western Bangladesh: the OH found significant evidence that many market actors had freshly entered south-western Bangladesh and discovered viable markets for their products and services. 
2) The Activity helped market actors experiment with innovations and operational improvements: many of the outcomes analysed in this report involve experimentation with new forms of farmer outreach, service provision, information transfer, and other innovations that together paint of picture of the increased level of experimentation induced by the Activity.
3) With the Activity’s support, several actors developed new specialised services or discovered markets for relatively niche products.
4) The Activity facilitated a massive increase in the flow of useful information moving between all types of market actors in south-western Bangladesh.

Rice

  • New market actors have crowded into south-western Bangladesh and are promoting domestically researched higher yielding/value varieties. Other firms are promoting hybrid varieties that address climate impacts (saline and submergent tolerant).
  • Expansion of zinc rice production based on increased yields and disease tolerance traits, contributing to improved nutritional uptake.
  • Firms offering integrated service models (input supply, advisory services, mechanised harvesting and buy-back arrangements).
  • Consumer demand for specialised rice varieties increased through e-commerce linkages to urban markets.

Maize

  • Increased uptake of high yielding hybrid maize varieties alongside the provision of crop advisory services.
  • Blended marketing approaches incorporating both seed sales and animal feed mills promoting in demand varieties.

Pulses

  • New bold grain higher yield mung bean seed introduced and marketed with offtake agreements and crop advisory services.
  • Low-cost bio-remedies (Inoculant and Trichoderma) introduced and marketed by multiple firms increasing yields by more than 20 per cent.
  • Market actors have adopted promotion and service strategies targeted at female farmers.

Oilseeds

  • Collaboration between sesame firms expands sesame production and procurement in south-western Bangladesh.
  • New export orientated sesame varieties introduced, multiplied and marketed.
  • Firms crowd in to expand groundnut production and procurement in south-western Bangladesh.

Support market systems

  • Market actors have used digital platforms to expand sales, coordinate, train farmers, and transact. In part this transition was due to COVID social distancing protocols, but firms have found that this is a more efficient and effective way of engaging their client and distribution base. Farmers now have better access to information.
  • Farmers have increased demand for mechanisation services. Mechanized harvesting is cheaper and quicker than manual labour (in short supply) and farmers are transitioning to mechanical harvesting so that they can plant a follow-on crop earlier.
  • Banks have expanded their regional footprint through agent banking and micro-dealer networks through input supply companies, resulting in improved access to finance (and other services) for farmers.

Impact on poverty

  • 1,074,811 participants reached by RDC (a 215 per cent achievement over the target)
  • $378 million of new income generated from US Government investment
  • Over $90 million in-kind and financial services leveraged
  • Reduced cost of access outreach from $28 to $3 over the life of the award (LOA)
  • Increased average farmer incomes from $9 to $107 over the LOA
  • $348,678,262 earned from grain sales by farmers 

[uploaded: March 2022]