SOJAG has arranged sale of a substantial number of cattle for Qurbani. These cattles were raised in the mini farm operated by SOJAG. Eeach cattle head is indexed and categorized by weight, chest measurement and the approximate amount of beef each cattle is expected to produce.
A 12-member team made up of SOJAG staff visited Sri Lanka for a week from May 2 to May 9. The team included staff from different levels – Area Managers, Branch Managers and Field Organizer. The host organization in Sri Lanka was SARVODAYA, a renowned Peoples Organization which has been working for the last 57 years. The team visited different programs being implemented in Kandy, Hasalaka and Bandaragama where the Sarvodaya Institute for Higher Learning is located. The team participated in a “Shramadana” Activity in a village in Hasalaka along with the local villagers.
SOJAG procured a Combined Harvester from BRRI (Bangladesh Rice Research Institute) on loan for a month and had it deployed in harvesting IRRI crop recently in Shailan and other adjoining villages of Dhamrai.
This awesome machine can harvest one acre of paddy field in about an hour. The paddy is separated from the stalks and collected in a sack leaving the stalks in the ground to be collected and bundled easily. This operation does away a few processing steps and makes life so much easier for the farmer. This has generated enormous interest amongst the farmers. SOJAG is planning to obtain one such Combined Harvester to be used in the coming harvesting season.
In an effort to bring diagnostic services closer to the reach and to provide routine pathological tests for the villagers in and around Shailan, SOJAG has established a Pathological Lab housed in SOJAG Headquarters. The Lab performs routine blood and other tests including ECG at affordable costs. This facility was established in response to popular and felt need of the common people of locality.
A Work-Plan session was organized on November 9 with the senior staff of SOJAG. Mr. Fazlul Kader, Deputy Managing Director, PKSF was also present. Mr. Kader also met and had discussions with farmer representatives on various issues related to agriculture and livestock programs. The participants put forward a number of suggestions for his consideration.
- The loan for cow-fattening should be for one year. Experiences have shown that raising livestock with the Qurbani Eid in view have not been that profitable. If the time span for the loan is extended farmers will have the choice of selling off their cattle whenever the market is favorable yielding more profit.
- Loans for Milking Cows should be for at least 3 years. Usually a cow produces adequate milk for about 3-4 years. Thus it would be possible for a farmer to pay loan instalments from the sale proceeds of milk and the calves, if required.
- In order to encourage farmers to take up mini livestock farming, loans for setting up such mini farms should be for 5 years which would provide the farmers enough leeway and freedom to pay back loans fully.
The second part of the Session was devoted to discussion on a number of projects and programs that SOJAG would solicit financial assistance from PKSF. The programs include the following:
- Establishment of a 200-metric ton Seed the Store
- Establishment of a Chilling Plant to process milk produced by local farmers
- Establishment of a “Bull Station” in association with the concerned department of the Agriculture University
- Establishment of a Permanent Guti Urea Plant
- The establishment of a Community Radio Station for which SOJAG has already been primarily selected by the Ministry of Information.
The working areas of SOJAG include total coverage of all the villages of Dhamrai upazila and a few adjacent villages of the upazilas of Mirzapur, Singair, Shaturia, Kaliakoir and Savar and the total number of villages amount to around 350. The communication within these villages is difficult, arduous and time consuming. In order to facilitate more effective monitoring and supervision, SOJAG has been providing motor-bikes to its Managers, Supervisors and workers. In the first instalment it provided 89 motor bikes.
Another 72 motor bikes have been provided to the Supervisors and workers of Livestock and Micro Enterprise departments in a simple ceremony on Thursday, 10th October held in its headquarters located in Shailan, Dhamrai. All of these motor bike have been provided on a “hire-purchase” system. SOJAG provides actual fuel costs.
A 5-member delegation from OGAKI UNESCO Association, Japan visited SOJAG from November 23-26. During their stay they visited Dhantara and Kawlipara Branches of SOJAG and its Head Office at Shailan. SOJAG and OAU have a long history of partnership. It has been providing technical assistance and cooperation in running and implementing the Pre-School Program. It should also be mentioned that OAU also provided assistance in the rehabilitation of the Savar Rana Plaza affected victims and families.
The members included Mr. Midori Kon, Ms. Nobuko Yamada, Ms. Kimiko Takayam, Mr. Keiichi Asano and Mr. Yasuhaki Nishiwaki.
SOJAG, a local NGO had identified 33 families who lost their dear ones and those who were physically injured. On 8th July it organized an event where all the families were brought in and cash grants were awarded to the families. Each of the families received grants up to Tk. 60,000 for starting different livelihood earning projects of each family’s choice. Some for rearing milking cows, land mortgage, small grocery shops and tailoring shops.
Those who left behind young kids an amount of Tk. 2,000 will be provided per month for two years to augment food and nutrition and rearing of that child. The local MP was present along with other public servants.
Mr. Nasir, in the picture below, received Tk. 60,000 (about US$800) for starting a small grocery shop.
Look at his eyes, the facial expression, fingers on his chin, the raised eyebrow!! But how can he? He is only 9 months old! How could he know that his father is one of the hundreds of others who lost their lives in one of the worst industrial disasters in history! His father worked in a Garments Factory located in the 9-storied Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24 in a matter of minutes.
A little bit of background information would help in putting this child into perspective!
Ms. Midori Kon of Ogaki UNESCO Association, Japan has been a longtime friend of SOJAG providing financial assistance for its non-formal education program for the underprivileged and school drop-outs.
When she heard about the Rana Plaza disaster she, along with others in her organization, launched a fund raising campaign. She personally came down to hand over the funds raised to SOJAG and also expressed a desire to meet the families of those who died in that incident and also those who became physically disabled.
We from SOJAG identified 33 such families within Dhamrai Upazila (sub-district) which is its working area. Midori visited seven of those families. While talking to the parents or mothers she became so emotional that she could hardly hold back her tears! Almost all these families are in dire straits, both emotionally and financially! The last part of our trip took us to CRP (Center for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed) where in one ward alone there were 62 admitted victims of the Rana Plaza. All of them suffered loss of limbs and we saw one woman both of the legs of whom had to be amputated!
SOJAG is now in the process of implementing a rehabilitation and livelihood program for these victims with its own resources and with the assistance of Ogaki UNESCO Association of Japan!