Wholesale, growers’ markets fail to serve farmers

October 31, 2010

About two lakh farmers under the Northwest Crop Diversification Project have been deprived of the promised marketing support due to faulty planning and poor management of wholesale and growers’ markets built by the project.
The markets were built during the first phase of the Tk 360 crore project from 2001 to 2008, jointly funded by Asian Development Bank and the government to promote the cultivation of ‘high value crops’ including vegetables, fruits and spices.
One of the objectives of the project was to bypass the intervention of middlemen in the marketing process to protect the interests of the farmers owning less than three acres land, said the project officials.
However, according to the latest report of the Department of Agricultural Marketing, one third of the 76 markets, built under the project at a cost of Tk 50 crore, are yet to be brought under full operation.
Out of 76 markets, 42 markets have gone into full operation, said officials of the department which had been assigned the management of the markets by the agriculture ministry in June this year.
According to the latest reports, five wholesale markets and five more growers’ markets were yet to go into operation, whereas 23 markets were only partially operating.
Some of the growers’ markets were built at places close to the weekly marketplaces in rural areas that were not frequented by wholesale buyers, said Md Abul Bashar, deputy director of the department.
Basher added that although 50 per cent of the stalls had been reserved for the members of ‘small farmers’ groups’ under the project, they were refusing to pay the monthly rent for the stalls and storage facilities at the market fixed by the market management committee headed by the Upazila Nirbahi Officer.
He said the refusal might have been prompted by the problem of ‘double taxing’ in some places where the growers’ markets are situated inside the conventional market areas.
Despite paying rents for the stalls at the growers’ market, the farmers had been asked for paying tolls by the lease-holders of the conventional market, explained Bashar.
In addition to the obstacle of ‘double taxing’, most of the members of the small farmers’ groups were not interested in occupying a stall in the wholesale markets built at district level, where 50 percent quota is reserved for them as they lack the financial ability required in the trade.
The problem could be solved if construction of the NCDP Dhaka Central Market at Gabtali could be completed in due time, said Bashar.
The project’s director, Md Saydur Rahman Salim, told New Age that although the first phase of the project was completed in 2008, the construction of the central market was delayed due to some obstacles in the land acquisition process created by an influential local.
Saydur said problems related to the placement of wholesale and growers’ markets could easily be overcome if the market management committees under the DAM could resolve the problems that the farmers had been facing at local levels.
The infrastructures were built to provide marketing support to the farmers by establishing an independent supply chain between the central market, 15 wholesale markets at district levels and 60 growers’ markets at Upazila and Union levels, he said.
He added that they had also bought seven freezer vans as an attachment to the central market at Gabtali to carry fresh supplies to the market from across the bottom of the chain.
Saydur also pointed out that market management committees would also need to ensure the participation of women growers in the markets and that was one of the major objectives of the project.
On the other hand, BAM officials claimed that the project itself had failed to involve the women growers in the marketing, not even to fulfil the quota for women in the markets.
The officials also pointed out that the central market along with six freezer vans were handed over to them by the project authorities just a few months back and that they had been working hard to open the market by the next month.
Notably, the NCDP officials said the government and the Asian Development Bank had already agreed to allocate an amount of Tk 349.78 crore to launch the second phase of the project targeting to incorporate 2, 50,000 more farmers in the cultivation and marketing of high value crops.


Courtesy of NewAge

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