Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C)

To reduce vulnerability and increase wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised char dwellers living in the northern char region of Bangladesh. 

Chars are riverine land, susceptible to erosion and soil deposition, which remain disconnected from mainland either seasonally or throughout the year. Due to this unique geographical positioning, Bangladesh government considers the char region as pocket of poverty and the 7th 5-year plan of the government emphasises poverty eradication in such locations. These chars have huge potential for livestock rearing and crop production, however, char households lack access to quality agro-inputs, production knowledge, information, market linkage, financial and other services. The constraints result in lower productivity and quality which leads to lower income. Limited income and opportunities hinder formation of substantial livelihoods capital (financial, physical, human, social and natural) of char households, which is essential to cope with the vulnerable context (economic, physical, social, political and natural) of the chars.

bogra, Bangladesch
Project duration
2012 - 2024
Financed by
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
  • Government of Bangladesh, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives

The project

Chars have the potential of becoming a prominent production zone of Bangladesh but the underperforming market system lacks private and public investments. The broader aim of M4C is thus to make private and public actors realize the potential so that they invest in the region as well as provide services leading to enhancement of economic performance of the poor char households.

To realize this goal, the project’s Theory of Change (ToC) follows mainly two major activity sets where one activity stream focuses on facilitating private businesses/ public agencies to expand customer and producer base, improve quality  and/or introduce products and services in chars integrating cross-cutting themes (WEE, governance, CSPM, DRR) and the other activity stream focuses on supporting a relevant public institution to capitalise and anchor char relevant data/experiences (private sector strategies, business models, advocacy). Thus, the major stakeholders of the project are multiple agricultural companies, micro-finance institutions and public sector organizations operating in Bangladesh. 

Char households are the target beneficiaries of this project. Project’s internal assessments and donors’ independent review has validated that char HHs are investing income to intensify/extensify/diversify farm businesses and are continuing to improve their economic performance. This has been largely possible since char HHs are accessing quality agro-inputs, information, markets and financial services.

Important Links

Project partner

  • Rural development Academy (RDA), Bogra


Results and impact until 2021

  • M4C promoted 20 business models and supported 1,700+ service providers e.g., agro-input companies, distributors, retailers, traders, microfinance institutions, etc. to promote 60 services e.g., distribution and promotion of quality agro-inputs, post-harvest/processing information and services, seasonal loans for crops and livestock, etc. 25 of these services were DDR-relevant and 20 services targeted women.
  • Until June 2021, M4C benefitted 1,31,700 char households with an additional income of 21.7 million Swiss Franc which is equivalent to BDT 162.6 Crore.
  • Benefitted char households used the additional income to reduce their vulnerability and improve family wellbeing i.e., house renovation, better consumption, sending children to schools; reinvestment in agriculture and trading, cultivation area expansion, asset/capital accumulation.

Expected results and impact

  • Net additional increase in income of CHF 14.5 million for 75,000 char households.
  • Increase of financial, social and physical capitals of char farming households leading to an increase in natural and human capitals
  • Economic empowerment and vulnerability reduction of women evidenced by changes in women’s income, access to opportunities and resources, women’s role, decision-making, balanced workload, asset and savings formation and income diversification.
  • 100,000 Char households in previous and new target locations use better services to improve and diversify their economic activities and 75% of the households using the services will benefit.
  • 700 national and local service providers expand services on the chars and promote 35 innovative services related to aggregation, ICT, energy, health, etc. among the char households.
  • With the facilitation from CDRC (Cambodia Development Resource Institute) at least 4 Public and private sector actors undertake and/or invest in char-focused initiatives and public and private sector induce favorable policies as well as increase investment in infrastructure and market mechanisms for the chars.
Project Journey and Key Achievements 2012 - 2019
M4C (Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars) aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability of northern char households, by facilitating market systems for enhancing opportunities of income generation. M4C is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Government of Bangladesh. 


Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Community Paramedic Services Begin at Char Deluyabari in Gaibandha
Under the health piloting intervention of the “Making Markets Work for The Chars (M4C)” project of Swisscontact Bangladesh, the community visit began at Deluyabari char of Gaibandha through selected Community Paramedics (CP) on the 21st of September 2022. An MBBS doctor also accompanied the CP during the visit for a hands-on demonstration of antenatal care (ANC) service delivery. 
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
M4C Signs Contract with Aftab Feed Products Limited
A new initiative between M4C and Aftab Feed Products Limited (AFPL), a national-level quality livestock-feed producer was launched on September 18, 2022. The core purpose of this new alliance is to strengthen the supply of quality livestock feed (cattle and poultry feed) for the char markets (Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, and Shariatpur districts) efficiently and sustainably. This agreement will also pave the way to execute a maize procurement plan in the chars to reduce its dependency on the imported maize ingredient.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Chars Development Research Centre (CDRC) Signs MoU Pumpkin Plus Agro Innovation Limited
Pumpkin Plus Agro Innovation Limited, and Chars Development Research Centre (CDRC) of Rural Development Academy (RDA)- Bagura held a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony on September 18, 2022, at Rural Development Academy (RDA), Bagura. Mr. Khalil Ahmed, Director General (Additional Secretary), RDA, Dr. Abdullah Al Mamun, ADG,RDA, Dr. Abdul Majid Pramanik,  Joint Secretary, RDA & PD-M4C; Mr. Nazmul Islam Chowdhury, Innovator & Founding Director, Pumpkin Plus Agro Innovation Limited including RDA Faculty members were among the honourable guests.