Meet Rita Begum, a small-scale poultry farmer from Rupsha Upazila in Khulna District, southwestern Bangladesh.
Like many other women in Khulna, Rita had few opportunities to scale up the subsistence farming she used to sustain her family of four children. Meanwhile, her husband, Anowar, worked hard to earn money for the household – but his work was often unreliable and production levels were inconsistent.
Rita noticed that other farmers in her village also struggled to access the knowledge, services and supplies required to be a productive farmer. This motivated her to attend a series of workshops led by United Purpose, which led to her being nominated by the community to become a micro-entrepreneur. The project supported Rita with training on improved poultry production practices, vaccination services and business planning. She was also put in touch with private companies to improve community access to services and agricultural supplies.
As a result of the project, Rita has expanded her business. She now sells poultry feed and offers a vaccination service for other poultry farmers in the area. After just 12 months, Rita now owns 143 hens and 97 ducks, and her other farming services have boosted her earnings to 7,000-8,000tk per month. Farmers no longer need to travel long distances to purchase goods, because Rita has brought these to the community.
Rita’s confidence, self-esteem and income is at its highest. The project has provided Rita and her community with the foundations they need to lift themselves up out of poverty. Rita has already extended her business even further by investing in a deep tube well for cultivating rice in her village and partnering up with her son to open a grocery store. These should take her earnings up to 20,000-25,000 BDT per month (approx. 174-218 GBP). As a result, Rita feels more like an equal partner in her household and, increasingly in the wider community.
In recognition of her community and social contributions, Rita has been awarded an Amor Ekush (Memorial Day) crest, and a certificate from the Rupsha Upazila Livestock Office.
Rita is just one of the smallholder farmers who have directly benefited from UP's DFID-funded 'Improving Food Security and Livelihood' project. Together with partners Helvetas Swiss Intercooporation and World Fish, the project has improved the livelihoods and food security of 127,000 rural farmers, 84% of whom were women.