Bangladesh Krishok Federation organizes Seed Fair: Keeping it local and natural

South Asia is home to 40 percent of the world’s poor with 600 million people living on less than dollar 1.25 per day and 70 percent of its people living in villages. Funded by IFAD and led by regional farmers’ organizations (FOs), the goal of MTCP2, the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase 2 is to contribute to the poverty alleviation in the Asia and the Pacific region through strengthened capacities of the rural poor and their organizations that lead to improved livelihoods and positive socio-economic impacts in the rural development. As a part of Project MTCP2 Bangladesh, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, the largest peasants’ movement in the country organized a series of events devoted to strengthening voice of farmers for rural development.

Meeting with Stakeholders:
Stakeholder Meeting. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator for MTCP2
Stakeholder Meeting. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator for MTCP2

 BKF organized a meeting with stakeholders on 18 October 2016 from 11 am to 1 pm at Barisal Mohila Club, Bell’s Park. The objectives of the meeting were to exchange views with our stakeholders on the development of the consolidated vision to identify the way towards the future visions.

More than 90 people were present in the meeting from various sectors of Barisal such as political parties, government organizations and print media. Rehana Begum- Vice Chairman, Barisal Sadar Upazila, Ex Counselor- Minu Rahman, President of Sadar Upazila Mohila Awami League- Parvin Jahan Parul and woman senior leader from Bangladesh Krishok Federation- Rehana Begum Mitu spoke at the event and expressed solidarity with the farmers promising better communication and linkage with government facilities. As representative of Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Barisal, Dr. Gazi Md. Saifuzzaman, ADC Md Abul Kalam Azad visited the program and expressed willingness to take part in future initiatives. Executive Engineer, Barisal division from BADC, Chonchol Kumar Mistry also visited to show support.

Meeting with NGO. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator of MTCP2
Meeting with NGO. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator of MTCP2

The interaction focused on developing a working model for engagement with government and civil society and offered a platform for FOs to learn from other stakeholders. The meetings created a visible repercussion in the town area. There was an open floor session where students, activists and farmers expressed their opinions and reached a common understanding of the harm done by hybrid, GMO and pesticides through agribusiness.

Meeting with NGO:

On 18 October 2016, from 3 pm to 5 pm, Bangladesh Krishok Federation organized a meeting with NGOs  at Barisal Mohila Club, Bell’s Park. 13 NGOs participated in a panel discussion facilitated by Meghna Alam, coordinator of Bangladesh Krishok Federation for MTCP2 and technical assistant for Via Campesina Bangladesh. All the organizations engaged in a sharing of   updates on their activities to explore the possibility of more in-depth collaboration on building networks, participating in policy dialogue that directly impacts farmers and providing technical training to members.

The meeting ended with executive directors, regional managers and coordinators of different NGOs speaking at the podium focusing on the scope of engagement for us in future for developing a model that strengthen small farmers and  traditional agriculture speeding up the development process of the country and its people in turn.

Seed Fair:

To promote farmers’ production and to improve the availability of locally produced seed to farmers, Bangladesh Krishok Federation organized a seed fair with support from MTCP2 on 19 October 2016 at Barisal Town Hall from 10 am to 5 pm.
Seed Fair. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator MTCP2
Seed Fair. Photo Courtesy: BKF Coordinator MTCP2
The fair was inaugurated by an hour long ceremony in the hall room chaired by Ex Counselor of Barisal City Corporation- Minu Rahman and attended by President of Shodor Upajilla Mohilla Awami League- Parvin Jahan Parul, Executive Director of MAP – Shuvankar Chakroborty, Field Coordinator of BNDN- Ranjit Dutta, BKF Coordinator for MTCP2 and technical assistant for Via Campesina Bangladesh- Meghna Alam, Senior Female Leader from Bangladesh Krishok Federation- Rehana Begum Mitu,  Director of  Village Development Forum- Jakir Hossain Talukder and Executive Director of BFDS- Md Shah Jalal.

Four stalls were erected at the open space in front of Barisal Town Hall, each containing 10-15 varieties of local seeds of paddy and vegetables.  Farmers were free to sell or barter seeds with each other and local people at the fair. The fair enabled evaluation of the level of diversity within the area and to assess lack of biodiversity and to increase local seed availability. Rehana Begum- Vice Chairman, Barisal Sadar Upazila and Saima Begum- Executive Director of Anggikar came to visit the fair.
The farmers’ leaders in Barisal division expressed their concern for lack of experience in this area and expressed the need for much capacity building initiatives to get introduced to the seed fair concept as well as implementation aspects.  They received a demo on simple seed packaging, cleaning as well as seed selection. Interested and capable farmers expressed interest for creating a new sub-district committee based on Seed Fair Organizing. The fair acted as a creative medium to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on agriculture and the importance of strengthening agro-ecology and food sovereignty.
Local seeds are disappearing due to the availability of hybrid and GMO seeds. However, local seeds are free from side effects and can overcome climate change and environmental hazards to maintain local biodiversity. Thus, it is crucial to work on preservation of local varieties. It is also a key element in the traditional knowledge of farmers on agriculture which cools the planet and is under threat due to various false solutions to climate change proposed by multinational corporations. Programs like these create platforms to raise awareness and engage farmer’s voice with communities to withstand the harsh effects of climate change on agriculture, source of our food and life.

Article Courtesy:

Meghna Alam, Bangladesh Krishok Federation Coordinator for MTCP2.

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