Char Input Dealers: A Sustainable Source of Livestock Rearing Inputs in the Chars
CLP has distributed assets, the vast majority livestock, to 133,000 extreme poor households living on the chars of North West Bangladesh since 2004. This has been backed up with livestock rearing training and a network of Livestock Service Providers (LSPs) or paravets has also been developed simultaneously.
It has been a successful strategy: income sources are now more varied and the proportion of income from wage labour alone has reduced. Many households continue to diversify into agriculture by renting or buying land.
So, CLP’s livelihoods component works in getting households on the right pathway out of extreme poverty. However, because of their remoteness a significant problem most char households face is getting regular access to knowledge, quality inputs, and markets where they can sell their produce.
This is why during its second phase, CLP has been working hard to strengthen the meat and milk market systems for char households (link).
A key component of CLP’s markets’ project has been the formation of business groups (BGs) and Char Business Centres (CBCs). BGs operate at the village level and are made up of producers from a single sector. They aim to provide a focal point for producers to interact collectively with traders and input sellers, making it more attractive to trade with producers.
CBCs not only include producers, but input service providers and traders as well. CLP has been supporting these CBCs to create links with the private sector for better access to products and services.
Crucially, CLP has also been supporting and developing Char Input Dealers (CIDs) who supply meat and milk producers with a range of quality inputs on the chars. CLP has developed more than 100 CIDs.
Munnu Sheikh from Montola in Sirajgonj is one of these input dealers. Munnu, like other CIDs, was supported because he was enthusiastic, had some experience in running a small business on the chars and had an entrepreneurial spirit.
CLP linked Munnu with an input dealer on the mainland from whom he could buy larger volumes of inputs. Munnu was able to do this because he knew he would be able to sell the inputs since he had already discussed the needs of his customers, the BG members.Everyone wins. Munu makes a healthy profit, as does the mainland input dealer. Importantly though, producers now have access to cheaper inputs because they have been bought in bulk, which are available on the chars. These inputs contribute to productivity increases and ultimately higher incomes and profits.
CLP comes to an end in March 2016 and has therefore been encouraging sustainable relationships between CIDs and the private sector. For example ACI has recently made 10 CIDs dealers or sub-dealers. As a result, CIDs receive inputs at their doorsteps which saves them transport costs. CIDs like Munnu Sheikh are truly excited about these new opportunities.