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Livelihood project bears fruit

Caritas sapling program grows incomes

Tribal people benefit from mango business thanks to Caritas initiatives Tribal people benefit from mango business thanks to Caritas initiatives
  • Uttom Stephan Rozario, Rajshahi
  • Bangladesh
  • July 18, 2011
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Four years ago Podmoni Ekka struggled to provide daily meals for her family as there was no permanent source of income.

Today, the 50-year-old tribal Oraon Catholic woman and her family enjoy a better standard of living thanks to a Caritas livelihood project in Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabgonj districts that has enabled her to earn 60-70,000 taka (US$ 811-946) per year since 2009.

The change for the better for Ekka and her family comes from a profitable mango business; an industry for which the two districts are becoming famous across the country.

Setting up a business in poor rural areas in Bangladesh is always very tough and people often expect to do so with cash through donations or loans.

The Church’s social service agency in the two districts has changed lives forever in a different and very effective way.

In 2007 the agency distributed 5,000 hybrid fruit saplings to 100 tribal people. They also received fertilizer and insecticides to take care of them.

The scheme has grown into a success story for many.

Total income for all beneficiaries amounts to more than 3 million taka, which has enabled many families like Ekka’s to enjoy a happy life.

Another beneficiary Minoti Hasdak, 45, a tribal Santal Catholic housewife said, “This year I’ve earned 55,000 taka from what I’ve grown in my garden. Besides the daily family expenses I can easily pay for my children’s schooling.”

Apart from her mango garden she also earns extra income from selling lemons and vegetables from saplings and seeds supplied by Caritas.

“Once we lived hand to mouth but now things have started changing,” she said.

Caritas Rajshahi’s education and development officer, Suklesh George Costa, said that Caritas supplies various kinds of saplings to people to plant around schools, homes and in fields.

“We started this project in 2007 and have distributed 2,000 trees already this year. We will be continuing with it for the foreseeable future,” he added.

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