Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS)

To improve food security, prevent malnutrition, and improve water, sanitation and hygiene situation of smallholder households in Bangladesh, ICCO Cooperation, iDE and BoPInc developed the PROOFS project with financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. PROOFS stands for Profitable Opportunities for Food Security.

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Over recent years considerable progress has been made in improving the food and nutrition security (FNS), and the related water, sanitation and health (WASH) situation in Bangladesh. Yet due to a number of inter-related factors including the very high population density, worsening climate change and environmental issues, and high frequency of natural disasters, there remain on-going challenges for the Bangladeshi people.

The prices of critical imports and global commodities, such as diesel fuel and key staples such as rice, remain high and continue to rise. Malnutrition is widespread, especially amongst women and children (40-50%), affecting both physical health and cognitive development, and impacting negatively on the social and economic development. Around 26% of the Bangladeshi population is chronically food insecure , due to poor access to sufficiently nutritious food.

This food insecurity goes hand in hand with poverty. As much as 32% of the Bangladeshi population still lives below the poverty line, with approximately 50 million Bangladeshis experiencing insufficient access to food and other basic needs. For many people the water, sanitation and hygiene situation is poor, posing further health risks.

The bulk of food is produced by smallholders, of which many produce at subsistence level. Generally, these smallholders face deficient local input- and output markets: inefficient market infrastructure and limited market information, poor access to credit and extension services, and inadequate infrastructure such as irrigation and electricity.
Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS)

Initial situation

Rates of Malnutrition in children, adolescents and women in Bangladesh are among the highest in the world. Among these population groups 9.6% are suffering from stunting, 31.9% from wasting anemia and 42% are underweight. Despite the steady decline of malnutrition over the past decade, there is much scope for improving the nutrition and food security of Bangladeshi households. Around 26% of the Bangladeshi population is chronically food insecure, due to poor access to sufficiently nutritious food. Higher food security coupled with improved nutrition knowledge can have a significant impact on the physical and cognitive development, in turn affecting the social and economic productivity of an individual.

Target group

The project has a target of reaching 80,000 Base of the Pyramid households located in Northern (Gaibandha, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Rangpur) and Southern (Barisal, Bhola, Patuakhali) regions of Bangladesh.


PROOFS employs a Market Development Approach and facilitates the private sector to engage with poor, smallholder farmers. PROOFS does not act as a direct service provider but rather builds the supporting functions - such as skills, introduction of technology, and access to information - that are required to strengthen a market system. The central idea of this approach is that the poor are dependent on market systems for their livelihoods. Changing those market systems to work in a more effective and sustainable manner for the poor will improve their livelihoods and consequently reduce poverty.

Goals overview

Interventions of PROOFS focus on the following:

1. Mobilization and capacity building of Farm Business Groups, Producer Groups and Farm Business Advisors.

2. Facilitate adoption & implementation of demand driven business strategies.

3. Increase access to, and the productive investment of effective finance options at the rural level.

4. Wider market strengthening and capacity development of relevant value chain actors.

5. Facilitate commercialization and adoption of appropriate technologies through private sector engagement and wider market based interventions.

6. Implement profitable business models for currently available technology around improved sanitation, safe water and closing the sanitation loop (fecal sludge management).

7. Establish sustainable nutrition messaging services at grassroots level with support from relevant government departments.

8. The eight intervention of Vocational Education and Training (VET), added in September 2014 and implemented by Edukans, aims at training a total of 2300 adolescents drop outs from school.

PROOFS - Organizing Farmers, Improving Markets

Organizing Farmers, Improving Markets - PROOFS Baseline Film from RedOrange on Vimeo.

  • PROOFS - Organizing Farmers, Improving Markets
  • In 2015, PROOFS started scouting for local women who were willing and able to become a micro-entrepreneur. Shima Begum showed interest in serving and ensuring nutritious food and hygiene products for her community. 

    “Today, my business continues to grow and I am able to bring home a healthy income to meet the needs of my family.”

    Shima Begum is a Nutrition Sales Agent (NSA) in rural Bangladesh. She delivers nutritious food and hygiene products to BoP households, along with behavioral change messages. She has taken up the challenging task of raising awareness on nutritious food and hygiene practices through door-to-door visits and group sessions. Very few adolescents, pregnant and lactating women in Shima’s community have access to nutrition food and hygiene products and follow appropriate practices. Shima plays a major role in her locality to ensure nutrition food and hygiene products and drive behavioral change towards more diverse diets.

    The whole story of Shima Bergum as Nutrition Sales Agent

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