Lobby and Advocacy Efforts Ensure Credit Facilities for Dairy Farmers
ICCO Cooperation’s Civic Engagement Alliance (CEA) program aims to establish the right of the marginalized through lobby and advocacy. The CEA program trains the small producers and related associations to realize their rights and lobby for these following a legal procedure. In line with this ensuring access to suitable credit facilities for marginalised farmers has been a priority of six union-level Federations of Producer Organisations (UFPO) in Manda, Naogaon. With this aim, since mid-2017, committee members of the UFPOs have been conducting meetings with public and private financial institutions like NGOs, banks, and entrepreneur associations in order to identify the most suitable credit facilities for the target group. After assessing the terms and conditions of multiple institutions, the proposal from Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) seemed to be the most favourable. Keeping RAKUB in mind, the UFPO further investigated the benefits and risks of the cooperation through a local-level learning and sharing workshop. This also strengthened the link with the farmers and created a channel for dialogue and advocacy. In January 2018, the UFPO was registered at the upazila (sub-district) level as Upazila Federation of Producer organization (UzFPO). Following this, the UzFPO worked with both public and private sector actors through a shared platform - Public Private Initiatives (PPI). Upazila cooperative officer, Manda looked into the case and sensitized them to put pressure on creating financial linkage among RAKUB and the organized farmers of Manda Upazila.
In March 2018, UzFPO organized a workshop with government officials and RAKUB, where the latter agreed to continue scoping for a profitable solution for these organized farmers. In the following month, UzFPO submitted a credit proposal to the RAKUB asking for a credit facility of BDT 6,360,000 (EUR 65, 000) for 96 selected farmers who are involved in cattle-fattening and milk production. Finally after multiple discussions, negotiations, and follow-ups with zonal and central level management of RAKUB, UzFPO was able to pursue the approval of credit proposal by leaning towards existing policies (allowing women to open accounts starting at 10 tk and introducing credit limit upto BDT 50,000 without any personal guarantee). In this policy, farmers would clear their dues (capital amount + interest) after the agreed period (6 month for bull fattening and 12 month for milk production). If the farmers fail to make their due payment within the assigned time period, their credit limit would be increased.