Agri-business for trade competitiveness project

Project description

Title: Agri-business for trade competitiveness project (ATC-P) – Katalyst
Financier: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK Government and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida)
Country: Bangladesh
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Commerce
Overall term: 2007 to 2017

Bangladesh. Farmers with their seasonal vegetables at a wholesale market in Mahasthangarh, Bogra © GIZ

Bangladesh has experienced steady annual economic growth of between five and six per cent over the last ten years, despite its frequent natural disasters, increases in fuel and food prices and the effects of the global financial crisis. During this time, the private sector’s percentage share of GDP has increased, while the agriculture sector’s has fallen. The future growth of the economy thus depends on raising agricultural productivity, transitioning to higher value manufacturing and improving collaboration between public and private sector actors.

The rural poor earn more money thanks to changes in services, inputs and product markets and to the increased competitiveness of farmers and small enterprises.

Bangladesh. Traders are sorting cucumbers in Mahasthangarh Bazar, Bogra © GIZ

The Katalyst project’s underlying premise is that enhanced private and public sector business services, coupled with an improved enabling environment, lead to more competitive enterprises, sustainable economic growth, and poverty reduction. The project’s impact is indirect in that it encourages sustainable changes in the market system. It also engages with a wide range of partners, including private and public-sector intermediaries with various long-term business interests and sector-specific mandates. Working in partnership with these market players, Katalyst designs and rolls out interventions designed to address market constraints and harness market incentives for the benefit of a large numbers of stakeholders. The project employs a rigorous system of monitoring and impact assessment to gather data which it then channels into the design of future innovations. With its practical approach to gender mainstreaming, Katalyst works to align gender issues with commercial interests – in sector strategies and other interventions. The project is currently focusing on maize and vegetable production, as well as on the farmed fish sector. Amongst other things, it is devising information channels, supporting women’s economic empowerment, promoting local agri-business networks and backing capitalisation. GIZ International Services is collaborating with Swisscontact on project implementation.

Results achieved so far
Katalyst has formed successful partnerships with public and private sector actors, and has supported the formation of effective public-private initiatives. By changing and improving services and systems, it has helped to raise the competitiveness of farmers and small enterprises. This, in turn, has encouraged more people to get involved, leading to more inclusive economic growth and a reduction in poverty. From 2002 to 2016, the project benefitted some 3.5 million farmers (including 1 million women), increasing their collective income by USD 430 million.

Katalyst is currently in its third project phase (March 2014 to March 2017), which involves the initiation of the ‘Katalyst Innovation Fund’ (KIF). KIF provides co-funding and technical assistance to encourage and accelerate innovations in Bangladesh’s agriculture market. ‘Capitalisation’ is yet another third-phase initiative whose mission is to mainstream experiences in private and public organisations and thus promote inclusive business and instigate further systemic change.

Successful interventions by Katalyst include:

  • Promoting quality seed in remote areas of Bangladesh;
  • Developing and expanding the contract farming model in the maize sector;
  • Disseminating information on the balanced use of fertilisers;
  • Promoting integrated pest management, judicious pesticide use, better composting technologies and the cultivation of high-value fish species;
  • Commercialising organic pesticides in Bangladesh;
  • Networking with international brood companies and facilitating the licensing process for private-sector imports of fish brood;
  • Developing a curriculum for the National Academy for Planning and Development in a bid to encourage agri-sector public-private partnerships; 
  • Promoting private procurement channels for safe agricultural products;
  • Facilitating the introduction of an agricultural award in recognition of the role played by agri-business, women and media in agri-sector development.

Bangladesh. Vegetable farmers are selling their produce in a retail market in Mahasthangarh, Bogra © GIZ


Georg Seidl