FPGs demonstrate power of collective action!

One of the major sources of income of the southwest region of Bangladesh comes from shrimp farming. The fishermen of Shaliker Danga Fish Group-1 of No. 8 Dhulidhor Union of Satkhira Sadar are also involved in shrimp and white fish farming for their income.

The group meets regularly in weekly basis with the Ag Extension Project’s Field Facilitator (FF) Mr. Manash Mondal designated FF of that area to discuss shrimp farming and/or any other related problems.

The group faced regular problems with virus attack and also faced financial losses due to this viral disease (White spot Disease). The farmers also shared their problems with the FF.

Other fish groups of that area are also being affected by similar problem. The FF linked the FPGs with nearby input retailers and District Fisheries Officer as well as Upazila Assistant Fisheries Officer through a district level matchmaking workshop. They assist the FPGs by testing the PH of their gher water.

Eventually two groups – Shaliker Danga Fish Group, 1 and 2, with 25 members each, came together and wished to solve their problems.

These groups were oriented to the project two years back and the farmer leaders (FLs) of these groups received two training courses on shrimp farming. They learnt to select quality post-larvae, prevention and control of shrimp diseases, proper nursery management, efficient feed management, Soil and Water quality management, etc. from these training sessions.

The FLs with their adequate knowledge on shrimp farming and nursery management helped the groups in preparing their ‘ghers’ accordingly and soon all observed improvement on post-larvae survival as well as on their production.

The farmers appreciated and truly realized the importance of such technical training sessions that improved their farm management as the project is not providing additional support in cash or kind.

Regarding solving the financial problem of the groups, the FF took his own initiative and suggested the group members to collect and deposit a nominal amount and create their own fund for future investment.

Understanding the idea, the groups (Shaliker Danga Fishery Group, 1 and 2) came together and jointly form a cooperative and start depositing small amounts to raise funds for fish farming. The two groups also included other non-group members in their cooperative. They now developed a self sustaining saving mechanism, having 103 members saving together.

As a result of their sincerity towards investment and fund management, the FF once again came forward to help the groups and this time he linked the FPGs with a local microfinance institution (MFI) named Nowabaki Bohumukhi Foundation.

28 of the FPG members have already received loans from this organization for investing in larger scale in their fish farms.