Access to Information and Market Linkage Strengthens Small-Scale Cattle Fattening Enterprises in Northern Bangladesh
Beef fattening is a small-scale enterprise in #Bangladesh. The cows have to be properly fed, and also kept disease-free before they are sold for profit. Sri Parimal Chandra Ghosh has been a cattle-rearer for more than 20 years as this is his primary source of income. Though he learnt through many years of experience, but he never received any trainings on the standard practices of healthy cattle fattening. He sometimes vaccinated his cows, but did not always follow the right procedures as he did not have knowledge on the required dosage and timing of the different types of vaccinations. As such, his cows would die quite often. He would then spend all his savings to purchase new cows, while his family starved as they did not have sufficient money to purchase food.
In 2014, Sri Parimal joined the Sundarganj Federation. Though the federation had skills and sufficient knowledge on proper cow-rearing practices, it often failed to disseminate the information due to their lack of ability to mobilise support and advocate for themselves. The situation took a turn for the better in 2016 when the Civic Engagement Alliance (CEA) program, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was launched by ICCO, in cooperation with Helvetas Bangladesh as the co-implementing partner. The project supported federations to mobilise resources to help the member-farmers in practicing proper methods of cow-rearing, along with access to free vaccination camps. The project also focused on building a strong relationship between the federation and Department of Livestock. As a result, apart from receiving extensive training from his federation, Sri Parimal also had access to information and services from the relevant public agencies. Since then, veterinarians have also started door-to-door visits for regular check-up of their livestock.
Sri Parimal says, "The capacity building provided by CEA on various topics, such as vaccination schedules and feed management, ensured that I learn everything that I missed out on during the last two decades. I do not need to depend for support from projects all my life; I can use my own knowledge and continue my enterprise independently. The linkages that have been established between myself and local officers will also last beyond the project period. Now the officers know us and we know them. I believe that we have created a network which makes farmers, like myself, and our communities much stronger. Previously, I did this alone, but now we all can help each other. We can also act as one voice and lobby towards different service-providers".
He added, "Through the established network, we have improved capacity to negotiate and can keep higher profit-margins. We attract many buyers as they can purchase a good number of cows from one source. Till last year, I used to earn a maximum of BDT 10,000 (approx. EUR 105) each quarter, but now my profits have almost tripled. With the increased profits, I have renovated my home recently. Also, my family does not have to starve or borrow money from anyone anymore."