Growing Medicinal Herbs on a 14km Road Side in Bangladesh
ICCO Cooperation and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation promote the concept of establishing Public Private Initiative (PPI) for lobby and advocacy. In a PPI, multiple stakeholders, including Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Service Provider Association (SPA), as well as leaders from producer groups and federations, collaborate to address issues faced by small producer groups in the markets.
High demand for Basak leaves supply
ACME Laboratories Limited is a company for manufacturing top quality pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh. One of their products are manufactured herbal medicines using “Basak” or malabar nut. Basak is a medicinal plant and they use the leaves extract for herbal medicines. ACME Laboratories need 90 ton/year supply of basak leaves. Thus, to fulfill the supply of the main ingredient for the herbal medicine, ACME Lab has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the local SPA. Today, through the SPA, 150 small-holder farmers supply Basak leaves to ACME Laboratories Limited. Last year, the producer groups were only able to supply 70 ton basak leaves to ACME. There is still enough a room to engage other small-holder farmers to improve the supply of basak leaves.
Where to plant the basak shrub?
SPA, which is mandated to work with the producer group, suggested the smallholders to supply leaves to the private sector as this would be a source for additional income for the smallholders. The Service Provider Association planned to plant approximately 18,000 medicinal sapling in Mohadipur union (village) under Palashbari upazila (sub-district), Sreepur and Konchibari union under Sundarganj upazila, under Gaibandha district. However, replacing rice as main crop to grow Basak in a crop land will bring less profit to the farmers. They then realized that using raised and fallow land would be more suitable and profitable for growing Basak. As such, 14 km long road side seemed to be the best alternative for this.
Lobby to the local government
The Union Parishad (local government unit) in coordination with Upazila Nirbahi Office (Sub-district Executive Officer) are the institutions who allocate and maintain this road side land. Thus the PPI committee, which consists of the Department of Agricultural Extension and the Department of Livestock Services, made regular visits to the relevant authorities to get permission for growing the medicine plants on the road sides. Considering the positive environmental impact, demand and economic benefits to the producer group, the Union Parishad allocated the requested land for Basak plantation for 15 years. As a result, 135 male and 15 female farmers planted 18,000 saplings in August and September 2017. The SPA further plans to expand this plantation area through similar lobby and advocacy efforts.
CEA is a 5 year program in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. CEA program provided lobby and advocacy training also build capacity of different market actors such as representatives from producer group, SPA, TA and Union Federation Producer Organization (UFPO) to understand the concept of public private initiatives. This training developed their negotiation skills and enabled them to mobilize support from local government authorities