Duck rearing and poultry farming have brought back smiles on the faces of poor rural women as they are becoming self-reliant with increased monthly earnings and were still facing constraints in ensuring a stable livelihood.
Most small scale women farmers in the rural areas complained that of not having adequate access to loans from the government while the microcredit programmes run by different nongovernment organisations were not so easy to refund due to high rates of interest.
‘But, now I’m earning at least Tk 17,000 per month through rearing 100 ducks and 80-90 poultry birds,’ said Jahanara Begum, a small poultry farmer of village Junia in Bhandaria upazila of Pirojpur.
‘But I am afraid to obtain financial loans from NGOs as they charge around Tk 43,000 against per loan worth Tk 30,000 for a year,’ she said.
Jahanara, wife of Babul Pallan, a day labourer, said, ‘We have no land except a tin-shed house and a pond on four khata of land. Fish is cultivated in the pond,’ she said.
If the loans were available for small scale farmers at low interest rates, then it could benefit us, said another 40-year old woman farmer Nasima of the same village who had applied for a loan to a commercial bank but at last didn’t get it.
‘I have been earning only Tk 3,000 a month for the last seven years up until when I used to work as a health worker at BRAC….. now I’m earning Tk 15,000-20,000 through poultry and duck rearing,’ said Nasima who has around 100 poultry birds and 50-60 ducks.
There is no support from the government regarding the treatment and vaccinations of the poultry animals and that is why the mortality rate among poultry is high at the remote rural areas, she said.
‘The price of poultry medicine is also high as we have to spend at least Tk 3,000-4,000 a month for the medicine and food cost of the poultry birds,’ said the women farmer.
‘We are suffering from lack of adequate manpower and so we could not support the rural farmers as we have only three field workers for a whole upazila,’ said upazila livestock officer Prokash Chandra Biswas of Bhandaria in Pirojpur.
Noted agricultural economist and former director general of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute Jahangir Alam suggested that the public and the commercial banks should be ‘client friendly’ so that the small poultry farmers in rural areas could get loans at lower interest rates.
He, however, said that, as the poultry production was risky and their profit margin was low, so the rate of interest against their bank loan should be not more than 5 to 6 per cent.
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