Livestock farms change fate of rural women

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DHAKA, Jan 31, 2020 (BSS) – Rehena Begum has changed her livelihood by setting up a cow farm around four years ago taking a loan of Taka 16,000 from the Village Development Association (VDA) in her village under the Amar Bari Amar Khamar (ABAK) project.

She had been fighting with poverty since her childhood. After getting
married, her life was not changed as her husband, Md Mokbul Hossain, was a day labourer and his income was not enough for bearing the expenses of a five-member family.

“We led a miserable life due to extreme poverty. I started a small business for supporting my husband as well as my family,” said Rehena, mother of three sons, living in a remote village-Dolapara under Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.

At the beginning of the journey of ABAK project at Dolapara village, Rehana said, she became a member of ABAK.

She raised her own fund by depositing Taka 200 per month. After two years of membership, she took loans and bought a cow at a cost of Taka 16,000. Through the rearing of cow and selling milk, the wheel of her life started moving towards progress. After one year, she returned the first phase loan and borrowed Taka 30,000 again and bought two cows.

She repaid the money timely in two installments. For the third time, she
took Taka 50,000 as loan for expanding her farm. Moreover, she collected Taka 110,000 by selling a cow. Now, she has five cows.

Rehena is selling 12-14 liters of milk every day. Besides, she is also
rearing more than 100 chickens of different breeds, including Turkish,
Chinese and Fighter.

Through farming, Rehena said that she is now leading a standard life with
her three sons and husband as they have no financial crisis.

Rehana does not want to remember the days of pains that she left behind.
Expressing gratitude to the ABAK, she said, “If I wasn’t a member of the
project, I couldn’t experience happiness in life.”

Talking to BSS, Project Director of the ABAK Project Akbar Hossain said the
goal of the project is poverty alleviation through income generation of the
underprivileged and small traders of the country.

Through the project, he said, the government is assisting capital formation
of the poor farm families, sharpening their skills through training and
motivation, allowing them to sit together at courtyard meetings, enabling
them to take decisions independently, enabling them to develop need based
small family farms and ensuring marketing facilities for their products.

The project started in 2009 with Taka 1,492 crore and finally the project
was revised in 2016 allocating Taka 8,010.27 crore.

The government has a plan to form over one lakh VDAs by June 2020 and bring
over 2.73 crore poor of 54.60 lakh families under the beneficiary scheme.

Under the project, over 2.39 crore poor and extreme-poor people across the
country are getting benefits. Over 1.08 VDAs have been formed across the
country from which about 47.88 lakh families are getting benefits.

The beneficiaries have deposited over Taka 1,770.88 crore till November
2019 and the government has provided Taka 1,518.11 crore as grant under the
project.

Under the project, Akber Hossain said, the government is giving special
focus on women as a VDA is formed with 60 members out of which 40 are women.
Under the project, he said, each member of VDA saves Taka 200 per month and
the government gives each of them an equal amount as bonus. All the money has
been deposited to the bank account of VDA.

After getting fund from the respective VDA, a member of each poor family
develops small farms like fishery, livestock, poultry, nursery and vegetable
gardening.

Under the project steps were taken to bring every inch of land of the low
incoming families to cultivation, he said.

After making an income from their farms, the project director said, members
of each VDA make repayment of their loans in installment to the account of
the VDA. Thus the fund is being revolved and utilized for poverty
alleviation.

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