COVID-19: ICCO Provides Extra Agri-Inputs for 5,000 Farmers
The Postcode Lottery-funded project The Salt Solution is working to increase the food production of 5,000 vulnerable farming families in Bangladesh by introducing salt tolerant crops, to enhance their food security and income. Due to COVID-19, the government has imposed full or partial lockdown in various districts and restricted movement throughout Bangladesh, including our project areas.
While this season’s vegetables, produced with the technical support of the project, have recently been harvested, farmers are not getting a good (or any) price for their produce because no transportation to markets is allowed in the current COVID-19 situation.
Not only that, many of the farmers in our project are ultra-poor farmers. Those farmers do not only depend on agriculture, but also rely on additional income from working as day labor in non-agriculture sectors often outside their villages. Think of rickshaw pullers or day labor in a small factory or business. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and impact, most of them are now jobless or will be in the near future.
Without the opportunity to earn any money, while not getting any profit for their harvests, farmers cannot purchase household necessities like rice and oil and it’s difficult for them to maintain their livelihoods. Consequently, they are facing a severe food crisis as a result of the pandemic.
Unable to Purchase Agri-Inputs
The current economic losses are impacting not only the farmer’s food and nutrition security, it also means they are unable to purchase agri-inputs, such as vegetables seeds and fertilizers, that are needed for the next cultivation season (from September to February). Without these inputs, farmers will be unable to produce their crops next season, which will further exacerbate the food crisis, not only in the region, but also nationally.
Providing Agricultural Input to 5,000 Farmers
ICCO, in consultation with the Postcode Lottery, has decided to reallocate the budget so that we can provide agricultural input support to those 5,000 farmers, in combination with a skill and awareness program. If we provide the necessary agricultural inputs, together with skills, farmers will be able to cultivate their land and have a way to recover their livelihoods. And at least they will be able to produce their own foods and earn some money by selling the product.
As ICCO is working to improve the lives of marginalized farmers in Bangladesh, we believe that we need to support farmers, also during this COVID-19 situation.