ASA initiated this program to provide support to the potential entrepreneurs and traders of agro-products and farmers. The organization has been operating the program since 2007 under a tripartite agreement among ASA, Bangladesh Government and Asian Development Bank. The emphasis is concentrated on providing credit facilities, enhancing capacity, assisting to create market linkage and offering technical support to the small and medium agro-entrepreneurs, traders and farmers of the country.
Over the years, Agribusiness Program has been extending credit, imparting training on livestock, fisheries and high–value crops to the targeted clients. Furthermore, assistance was offered to them in marketing their products with special attention to the women entrepreneurs. Steps have been taken to support in organizing agro fares and exhibitions and helping the target groups to display their products to the buyers and consumers creating an opportunity for selling products without intervention of middle man. 57,393 clients were provided loan amounting to BDT 3,987.4 million and 691 entrepreneurs and farmers were trained during 2014-15.
This program was launched last year under the Agribusiness Program of ASA to regain soil quality without overuse of chemical fertilizer and to adopt measures for making the environment pollution free through increased use of compost manure in agriculture. Under the program 10 Vermicompost farms cum outlets were established in various places across the country. These farms produce Vermicompost and distribute compost manure to the farmers at a subsidized price. To make the farmers aware of the importance of vermicompost workshops, training sessions, and demonstrations were organized in the grassroots level during 2014-15. People especially the young were encouraged to open Vermicompost farms by offering flexible credit facilities and knowledge support. The initiatives have been benefiting users in creating unemployment and keeping environment free from the further degradation. 13.6 metric tons of vermicompost were produced and distributed among the farmers at a subsidized price during 2015.
Power Tiller Loan Program
ASA initiated Power Tiller Loan Program in 2014 to facilitate overall agriculture development of the country by increasing agri-production with the help of modern technology and equipment. Small, medium, marginal farmers and traders of agri-machineries are offered the loan at reduced service charge. Our country is still lagging behind in agri production compared to that in other countries of the world due to practice of traditional methods in cultivation. This program aims to increase use of machines in farming through providing financial services to the small farmers and traders of Agri-machineries.
During 2015, an amount of BDT 185 million was disbursed as Power Tiller Loan among 2,228 cultivators and traders of agri-machineries across the country.
Mushroom Cultivation Program
ASA launched a new program on Mushroom Cultivation in 2015. The program was undertaken to increase mushroom production and familiarize this to the general consumers utilizing abandoned land, household spaces and thereby generate jobs for the unemployed youths. Edible mushrooms have many herbal qualities that keep human body safe and healthy by preventing various diseases. In spite of having unique herbal features people of our country are not accustomed to use mushroom as a vegetable like other common ones. The production and consumption of mushroom in Bangladesh very insignificant.
Considering both the economic and health aspect of mushroom, ASA started cultivating it on a pilot basis in Gazipur, Manikganj and Dhaka districts. The output of these farms are being sold in the kitchen markets of Dhaka city and the adjacent urban areas. The program has planned to set up five more mushroom farms in different districts by 2016.
Orange Cultivators Support Project
A project has been undertaken by ASA to extend support to the orange cultivators of the country for increasing orange production and thereby generating thrust in the sector for overall development of the country. The project activities include assisting orange cultivators through providing financial and knowledge support for enhancing local production. Under the project 50 orange producers of Chunarughat Upazila in Habigonj district were trained during 2015.
Project on Dairy Farms
ASA took an initiative in 2015 for setting up Dairy farms in every district of the country. This was meant for creating entrepreneurs and developing entrepreneurship among the poor and marginal group, enhancing production of dairy products, making available animal protein, diversifying microfinance products and above all consolidating the means of poverty alleviation. Until 2015, under the project 1,190 entrepreneurs were provided with the financial assistance.