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The explicit aim of the document is to share the work done by KATALYST ‒ a project to support economic growth in Bangladesh for the purposes of alleviating poverty ‒ specifically within the vegetable sector. This document deals with the experience of KATALYST and its partner, Syngenta, an input supplier, in seeking to redress very low production levels of vegetables in the Rangpur region.
- 480 retailers have been trained in 16 sessions of 30.
- Asked whether they would approach retailers for advice, farmers' scores jumped from 3.52 to 4.32 (where 1 = never and 5 = always) following training. Likewise, farmers perceptions of retailer advice on key products, including seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, improved dramatically.
- Improved knowledge and information has been made available to approximately 25-35 per cent of vegetable farmers (250-350,000 farmers).
- 90 per cent of retailers reported that relations with customers had improved since the training and that customers had a more positive impression of them.
- Sales of crop protection products have increased by an average of 36 per cent in areas where training has taken place, compared with 10 per cent elsewhere in the region.
- For seeds, growth in the Rangpur region as a whole has been 108 per cent compared with 28 per cent in a neighbouring region, 3-4 times the growth rate of elsewhere.
At the time of publication, the intervention was only 2 years old and still considered a 'pilot' programme. Its central aims were to identify the causes of low production levels of vegetables in the region; develop strategies for developing the capacities of retailers and input suppliers within the market system; engage with appropriate players in an entrepreneurial manner that builds ownership with them; and eventually, scale up through investment from other players. 480 retailers, 20 per cent of all Rangpur retailers and serving approximately 200- 350,000 farmers, were trained over the 2-year period.
Taking account of both direct financial costs and staff time, overall cost per (retailer) trainee was $90-100 (KATALYST shared costs in the ratio of 60:40 with Syngenta). Both organisations split the cost of a 3-day residential training programme for retailers on a range of generic and product-specific issues.
- It was difficult to measure obvious indicators such as productivity levels and crop yields, due to the project being so young.
- The project targeted farmers, retailers and input suppliers, and the study therefore assesses the extent to which all three players felt that their position in the value chain had improved.
- This was done using qualitative methods including: questionnaires relating to farmers' perceptions of retailers; and interviews with retailers to assess improvements in their knowledge of different aspects of vegetable production and enhanced understanding of management, problem-solving and customer-oriented retail skills. Input suppliers provided sales figures as a measure of whether the demand for the product had increased.
Anyone interested in the market systems approach, specifically within the Bangladeshi agricultural sector. This might include potential investors and partners, as well as development practitioners and researchers.