The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday signed a $14.2 million loan agreement to support the expansion plans of Sylvan Agriculture Limited (SAL), a sister concern of PRAN-RFL Group (PRAN) company, to enhance inclusive agribusiness by lifting incomes and skills of farmers particularly women in Bangladesh.
ADB’s assistance would finance new food processing facilities to produce potato chips, potato flakes, and pasta, said an ADB press release on Wednesday.
PRAN-RFL Group director (finance) Uzma Chowdhury and deputy director general of ADB’s private sector operations department Christopher Thieme signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
Under a gender action plan, womenfolk will comprise at least half of the 450 people directly employed in the new facilities. Gender wage gaps will be reduced, women’s facilities introduced, and greater technological assistance provided to women farmers.
‘Agriculture plays a key role in Bangladesh’s economy and development, providing nearly half of all employment in the country and supporting over 70 per cent of the total population,’ said ADB investment specialist for private sector operations Tushna Dora.
Potatoes for the new processing facilities, located in Habiganj industrial park in the northeastern part of Bangladesh, would be sourced from around 2,000 contract farmers, integrating them in a sustainable agricultural value chain, the release said.
The project is expected to increase contract farmers’ income by at least 50 per cent as they introduce new potato varieties, expand the area they cultivate, and benefit from the assurance that their production will be bought by SAL.
The project is ADB’s first repeat assistance to a private sector borrower in agribusiness. In 2012, ADB approved a $25.1 million loan to SAL for the construction of processing facilities, including for liquid glucose and starch made from cassava sourced from contract farmers.
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