How chillies are being used to transform lives in Bangladesh

transform lives in Bangladesh

Chillies might have helped you to expand your culinary repertoire, but the chances are these spicy, colourful capsicums haven’t transformed your life. For some communities in Bangladesh though, chillies are changing lives and they are helping to pull people out of poverty.transform lives in Bangladesh

How a charity project is making a difference

A low-lying, flood prone country, Bangladesh can be an unforgiving place for people trying to earn a living to support themselves and their families. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities are those living on river islands known as chars. During the dry season, there is very little work available in these areas and people often go hungry. Meanwhile, when the monsoon hits, houses, cattle and crops can be washed away. Women are often particularly badly affected as the men frequently leave the areas searching for work as labourers in Bangladesh’s cities.

To help people cope with the challenges they face, Oxfam is working with local partners to enable farmers to earn an income by growing crops of chillies. If you want to assist the charity in its efforts, you can donate now via its website. Along with its partners, Oxfam is helping farmers to form producer groups that can pool resources like land and labour together. It is also assisting these groups to get loans from banks so they can invest in their agricultural businesses. The money they receive can be used to buy things like water pumps and mats for drying chillies. The loans are only repayable when the crops are harvested.

In addition to this, the charity is aiding producers in drawing up business plans and in saving money so that there are resources available during times of hunger. It has also helped to establish a trading relationship between chili farmers and a major food processing company in Bangladesh called PRAN.

What your money can do

If you contribute to this cause, you can help to continue this work and improve the lives of local farmers. For example, £9 can give a family organic fertiliser, manure and training in sustainable farming techniques, while £24 can give families tools, training and seeds to set up their own allotments.

One woman who has benefited directly from the charity initiative is Amina Begum, the vice president of the chilli traders’ group. She supports an extended family of nine, including five grandchildren.

Talking about her experiences, she said: “We’ve seen a big change, and we don’t have to starve like before. It was really hard for us to get enough food before. If we had something like rice or vegetables we would eat, but otherwise we would have to starve. Sometimes we went for two or three days without eating anything.”

You can find out more about this project by visiting the Oxfam website. Even a relatively small donation could make a big difference to the lives of farmers like Amina.

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