Bangladesh is known as one of the poorest country in the world especially in terms of low per capita income and high population density. With about 150 million people living in 147570 sq.km. The country along with other capital goods has to depend on outside assistance for foods and minor crops such as pulses, oilseeds, chili, onion, garlic, zinger, maize, sweet potato etc. However, Bangladesh has huge potentials to produce substantially the said crops in view of its supportive geographical condition, temperature and climate. The accelerated production of the minor crops could help not only enhancing our growth & reserves but also could contribute positively in reducing the intensity of severe poverty in the rural areas. Lack of technical knows how, Paucity of capital & lack in marketing supports hinders minor crops production in the country. The vast segment of rural population particularly the small, marginal and sharecroppers might be the prime actors in producing the minor crops if they are provided with proper institutional, financial and marketing supports.
In hope BRDB prepared a Project proposal, named “Poverty Reduction through Minor Crop Production, Preservation, Processing and Marketing Program” which was approved by the honorable minister for planning on 15/08/05. The project involves a total cost of Tk. 1982.34 lack to be implemented in 204 upazilas under 26 districts in three years (July 2005- June 2008). The project could not however be started in time because of delay in the availability of funds which eventually caused further delay in implementing the project components particularly the manpower recruitment and procurement of necessary logistics. Nevertheless, the achievements made so far under the project were highly impressive in terms of its outputs / results. Reviewing the progress and considering its potential impact on national growth promotion and poverty reduction, the govt. extended the project period for 1(one) year (July 2005 – June 2009) without changing the project cost & areas, components and the operational strategies and that into force on 22 December. 2009 ( vide memo no: পউসবি/পরিঃউঃশাখা-৪/অপ্রধান শস্য-০১/২০০৮/১০৬, তাং২২/১২/২০০৮ খ্রিঃ।)
Based on the experiences gained from the project implementation and lessons learnt from other Projects / Program the project is attempted to organize the farmers (small, marginal & the poor) into informal groups, impart training to them for improving their skills & knowledge on minor crops production & provide necessary input supports so as to transfer minor crops as a means to promote the livelihood of the vast majority of rural people on the one hand & a suitable tool to enhancing national growth in the country and save foreign currencies. The project has been quite able to impart training on minor crops production & preservation to 230400 (nos) farmers’ beneficiaries and 7680 (nos.) group leaders on minor crops processing and marketing, despite several constraints & limitations. Moreover 2560 (nos.) demonstration farms has been implemented in different areas which significantly contributed to disseminate improved techniques, ideas, views and practices of minor crops production and also to promote intensity and diversity of minor crops in the project area to the project beneficiaries on the one hand and the community people on the other. Then it is increasingly felt that the project activities / components should be continued to promote national growth and reduce poverty in the rural areas in terms of generating income and employment opportunities for the village people particularly the poor.
It is anticipated that the ongoing & future initiatives under the project will contribute substantially to promote the number of minor crops producers & volume of production which will have its subsequent impact on the reduction of poverty in the rural areas & promotion of economic growth in the country. But some unwilling shortages presents in implementation. In judgment, the project Steering Committee gives some recommendations and decisions in the committee to overcome the shortages(vide memo no:৪৭.০৪০.০১৪.৬২.০০.০৭.২০১৩-১৩৫(১৪),ফঃ.১২.০৫. ২০১৩). Against this backdrop, the present Development Project Proposal (DPP) has been initiated with further extension of the project period until June 2016 in 2nd phase with some essential revisions.
The central objective of the project is to reducing rural poverty and promoting national economic growth through the production and promotion of minor crops (pulses, oilseeds, chili, onion, garlic, zinger, maize, sweet potato) in the project areas. The specific objectives of the project area are as follows: .
1)Established organization of small, marginal farmers & sharecroppers for minor crops production, preservation, processing and marketing, to create their employment opportunities, increase income and purchasing capacity.
2)Create awareness among the producers, businessmen,customers and concerned people regarding the economic importance & nutritional value of minor crops.
3) Involve women directly in the process of production,preservation, processing of minor crops in order to increase their socio- economic position and empowerment.
4) Provide necessary training and supply timely appropriate scientific information & technologies to the minor crops producers, preservers, businesspersons & processors. Impart reduction of minor crops to save foreign currency.