POST TIME: 21 March, 2019 08:28:00 AM
ADB, PRAN sign 2nd loan deal for inclusive agribusiness
BSS, Dhaka

ADB, PRAN sign 2nd loan deal for inclusive agribusiness

Photo: Courtsey

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday 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.

PRAN is one of the largest food and agribusiness companies in Bangladesh.

ADB’s assistance will finance new food processing facilities to produce potato chips, potato flakes, and pasta, said an ADB press release yesterday.

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.

“ADB’s second loan to SAL will further improve the agribusiness sector in Bangladesh through increased private sector investment. It will enhance the livelihoods of thousands of local farmers, with a focus on empowering women to gain new skills that can be used to earn better incomes,” she added.

Potatoes for the new processing facilities, located in Habiganj industrial park in the northeastern part of Bangladesh, will 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 percent 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.

PRAN produces more than 200 food products under 10 different categories including juices, mineral water, carbonated beverages, bakery products, snacks, biscuits, confectionary, and dairy products. It is one of Bangladesh’s largest private employers, with around 95,000 staffs.

In addition, the group has engaged with more than 100,000 contract farmers across various crops.