Our family business started with my father’s initiative in 1987. He established Sonali Krishi Vandar to bring an impactful change in agriculture. In the 90s, there was very little use of scientific methods and artificial fertilizers. So, food production was limited. To change this scenario, my father introduced many advanced fertilizers and technical knowledge to the farmers in our locality. In 1990, I also joined the business, and from that time onwards, we progressed significantly.
Sonali Krishi Vandar offers every kind of support to a farmer for his production plant or farm. From giving them high-quality seeds to best-in-class fertilizers, pesticides, we look over every need of a farmer. However, our services do not stop there. We also work to give our full support to the aquaculture sector. We provide the necessary inputs such as fish foods, medicines, pesticides, etc., and technical support to help the farmers increase their fish production. Whenever they face any problem with their crops or fisheries, we try our best to resolve the issues.
Over the years, the business has expanded beyond my imagination. My brother always gives his best to sustain our family business. There are almost 8000 to 9000 farmers who work with us and buy our products and services. We have a partnership with 16 distribution companies. We work closely with 32 of their marketing and field officers. Our expert officials of the agriculture and aquaculture team keep regular updates on the progress of the production. As almost 30-40% of the farmers are still following the ancient methods of farming, they often get disheartened by their output. But with the help of our expert team and using their modern methods, the farmers have a satisfactory output.
The agriculture sector has always seen some rough times because of natural calamities and life-threatening diseases. However, nothing comes close to the Covid-19 pandemic. The damage has been soul-crushing, and the whole agriculture and aquaculture sector was crippled. For months, we could not get timely delivery of the fertilizers, pesticides, or seeds. That delay affected the production immensely because the growth of the plants and fisheries depends on timing. Also, there was no rainfall for 8 months straight in 2020. I planted watermelon seeds on my 15 acres of land with a total cost of BDT 19 lakhs. But I did not get a single penny in return because of the drought and the pandemic. I spent a lot of money on irrigation, but it all went to waste. Many farmers did not get any output and could not pay us for the agricultural products and technical support. We have to wait another season to recover from this damage.
While the aquaculture production was moderately good, the demand for marine fisheries was not up to the mark. The price of Bagda prawn was reduced by as much as 60%. Before the pandemic, we used to export the prawns at BDT 1200-1600, but because of the decreasing demand, the price became BDT 450-600 at best. As a result, we incurred some heavy losses in this sector as well.
I attended a training program from LightCastle Partners in Jessore. They gave us a clear picture of business strategies and marketing skills. We liked their supportive work for rural entrepreneurs. Currently, the markets are slowly becoming normal, and the prices are stabilizing. We still don’t know how long it will take to recover our losses, but we are hopeful. The farmers are also trying to get back on their feet. We believe that the upcoming days will bring us good fortune and peace.