People’s initiative groups for family farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
We are posting this news story shared by the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD).
Since 2012, ALRD has been providing capacity building to its partner NGOs working in 12 districts to motivate and organize farmers, landless, poor, men, women, indigenous people, and youth to form Gonoprochesta (People’s Initiative) Group. These people’s initiative groups promote collective farming and joint initiatives by using their own knowledge, technology, resources, and experiences for market access. Through the process of Gonoprochesta, rural people are using their own resources to create capital for collective investment in organic agricultural production. To assess this intervention, ALRD, with Economics Professor of Dhaka University, Dr. Abul Barkat, conducted a study in July 2015 to determine its impact on land fragmentation, women engagement, and food security. This study also intends to combat land commercialization and land grabbing.
On 5 December 2015, ALRD shared the preliminary research findings of the study, “Collective farming and initiative for market access of grassroots marginalized communities’ Gonoprochesta Group: An Exploratory Study,” to the policymakers, legislators, and civil societies in a conference on Gonoprochesta (People’s Initiative- PI) Groups and Small Collective Agricultural Entrepreneurs in Dhaka.
The research team presented the potential of the Gonoprochesta group in collective entrepreneurships and in helping poor cooperative farmers become self-reliant, thus will be able to provide safe food for the people. The findings from focused group discussions (FGDs) showed that Gonoprochesta group have resulted to farmers’ engagement in collective activities (self-employment of household members), women employment, youth engagement, income earning opportunities, access to land, and improved food security.
Gathering 200 participants from civil society, NGOs, journalists, governments, and academics, the conference aimed to create an environment for cooperation of government institutions; inform the government on collective farming through the exchange of experiences; promote the initiative in helping to create a social movement; change the socio-economic status of rural people particularly in rural women for their social dignity and economic empowerment; and protect the legal environment of these initiatives.
The conference has also created a national platform to gather grassroots community people where they have shared their three years experiences on practicing Gonoprochesta activities, challenges, best practices and future dreams.
The conference was chaired by the executive director of ALRD, Mr. Shamsul Huda. State Minister for Cooperatives Mr. Moshiur Rahman Ranga graced the first session as the Chief Guest and Mr. Fazle Hossa in Badsha MP, member of the Standing Committee on Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, as special guest. Dr. Abul Barkat presented the preliminary research findings of the study. Panel discussants were Professor Shafiq-uz-Zaman and Professor Rowshan Ara from Dhaka University.
In the second session of the conference, Professor Dr. Shima Zaman of the Department of Law, Dhaka University presented another paper titled, “A Legal Study on the Stunted Growth of Cooperative Societies Movement in Bangladesh and Legal Reforms for Engendering Changes.” Dr. Zaman illustrated the flaws in the existing cooperative laws of the country. Those are rather hindering the growth of cooperatives than encouraging initiatives.
Mr. Shamsul Huda expressed his optimism about the success of the initiatives. He put emphasis on the amendment of the existing cooperatives laws of the country to create conducive environment for them to flourish.