BB’s sharecropper scheme empowers rural women

The life of Lutfa Begum was not easy like now as she and her husband could not properly manage all expenses needed for their family, even the education of their children, for money crisis.
Poverty led Lutfa’s conjugal life to trouble. They had a piece of land where they made a thatched hut. They owned only 50-decimal cultivable land from inheritance and took another 140-decimal as leased.
“My husband cultivated the land. But he could not earn much. By this time, I became mother of four children, three sons and one daughter. They are all going to school now. We want our children to achieve higher education. Our ambition was very high, but lack of money was our regular companion,” said Lutfa Begum, who was also born in a poor farmer family in Comilla.
In this situation, Lutfa registered herself with the Borgachasi Unnayan Project (BCUP) of BRAC in 2015. Bangladesh Bank nominated BRAC for running its refinance scheme, titled “Sharecroppers Refinance Scheme”.
At first, she borrowed an amount of Taka 100,000 and invested it fully in tomato cultivation. In 2016, they cultivated 150 decimals of land with tomato which cost them Taka 3, 00,000. Due to a favorable weather condition, they got a good harvest of tomato and sold it for Taka 5, 00,000.
Last year, they borrowed Taka 2, 00,000 from the refinance scheme and cultivated tomato in 140 decimals of land. They earned Taka 7,50,000.
Alongside farming, her husband runs a grocery shop at a nearby market. Now, they are financially very well off. Financial hardship has gone away from their family. Their four children are going to school regularly.
Like Lutfa Begum, Resma is an ordinary housewife with two children. She did not send her children to school due to poverty. She is now self-reliant through agricultural activities.
“I was an owner of six decimals of land. There were no alternative resources except the land to earn my livelihood. I had to pass my life with family members in a miserable way. I could not manage food three times a day,” said Resma, who lives in a small village-Gopinathpur under Sadar Upazila in Jhenaidah district.
In 2012, Resma for the first time came to know about Borgachashi Program from her one of her neighbors. She communicated with BRAC workers of Gopinathpur Small Farmer Group. She obeyed the rules of the organization and applied for a loan of Taka 14,000. She made an agreement with the land owner and committed to provide him one-fourth of the crops.
She spent Taka 20,000 for cultivating two bighas of land and sold crops worth Taka 50,000. She cultivated different verities of rice. She owns a bull and a cow in her cow-shed which value near about Taka 1, 50,000.
In 2015, Resma borrowed Taka 1,00,000 from BRAC office. She cultivated different agricultural products like (vegetable, paddy, and jute). In the last season, she took lease of 21 bighas of land where she spent Taka 2,00,000 for cultivating different agro products and sold the products for Taka 5,00,000.
Resma has made a brick built house for living. She has also sank a deep tube well and bought agro-instruments for farming.
Now Resma has been maintaining a happy life with her family members. Her children are going to school every day and villagers are respectful to her. She intends to expand her dairy farm with the help of BRAC Borgachashi Loan programme.
Talking to BSS, a BB senior official said women are playing a new role in the family and farming as over 80 percent borrowers of the BB’s sharecropper refinance scheme are women. As they are now contributing to their families, they can take decisions relating to farming and family matters such as choice of crops, technology, food intake and children’s education.
For including women in the mainstream economic activities, he said, the central bank has taken a number of initiatives to ensure access of women entrepreneurs to financial facilities on easy terms and conditions.
“Though the sharecropper refinance scheme is not only for women, but most of the beneficiaries are rural women,” he added.
Bangladesh Bank launched the special fund initially with Taka 500 crore and later, it increased the amount to Taka 600 crore. The scheme will continue till June 2018.
According to the BB data, a total of 1,19,803 sharecroppers have got benefits till now in the current financial year 2017-2018. In 2016-17 financial year, the beneficiaries were 1,50,713 sharecroppers, which was 1,85,346 in fiscal 2015-16.
The rate of recovery of the programme is almost 100 percent, the BB official added.