Women harvesting leaves from their bashok crop, which grows along the village lane in the Rangpur district in Bangladesh.
Photos: Martin Dietz


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In Bangladesh, landless women in rural communities started organising themselves for generating income. Rural local service providers linked up with market actors. Today, the associations collectively produce, process and sell medicinal herbs to pharma companies.

Should you walk along one of the country lanes that connect hamlets in Rangpur and Rajshahi district in northern Bangladesh, you are likely to see long lines of green herbs growing on the verge. Bicycles, rikshaws and the odd motorbike use these lanes. The plants are common medicinal herbs such as holy basil, creat or malabar nut. Today, women plant herbs along more than 1,000 km of lanes.

One major constraint for extremely poor households striving to develop economically is lacking access to services. They need quality inputs for agriculture or livestock, knowledge on improved technologies and practices and the skills to use them. Skills and networks to develop and manage their market linkages as well as suitable financial products and services are also vital. Government extension services have their capacity and resource constraints, and poor households fall off the radar of these services, particularly if they have little or no land.

Samriddhi (stands for prosperity in Bangla language) was a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation that was implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.

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