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Bangladesh Agro-Processors Association (BAPA) was the recipient of two grants. One grant entitled “Strengthening the capacity of Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA) to enhance competitiveness of its member SMEs involved in Agro-processing” was focused on strengthening the Association. The second grant, in which Traidcraft was the Partner, was entitled “Sustainable agro SME development in target clusters of Bangladesh through enhancing Entrepreneurial Ability and Technical Skills, targeting MSMFs in 4 agro processing zones of Bangladesh: Dhaka-Savar; Gazipur; Narayangang-Munshiganj; Rajshahi-Bogra-Pabna and Chittagong Hill Tracts.

A closing workshop for both projects chaired by Mr. A F M FakhrulIslam Munshi, President of BAPA was held at the auditorium of Daffodil International University, Dhahmondi, Dhaka on 20 September 2016.The Chief Guest of this event was Honourable Minister, Mr. Alhaz Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Minister of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. 

The key note speech was given by Professor. Moslem Ali, Advisor to BAPA, who was instrumental in overseeing the planning and activities of both projects. He highlighted some of the main activities such as:

The first of series of 3 Train-the-Trainer (TTT) courses producing a pool of experts in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Business Planning.The second pool of expertise composed of TVET teachers. A curriculum for a 360 Hour certificate course was developed by BAPA and given to 80 participants. This is going through accreditation process by Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) and will eventually be run in 1800 food technology departments in Government Polytechnic Institutes.

The thired TTT Industry Assessors Programme conducted for 31 industry managers and supervisors who went on to implement an apprenticeship programme for 2098 apprentices. The result was 2054 apprentices successfully completed their course and went on to employment with BAPA members. An extensive training programme was targeted at 208 SMEs. The project funded a training centre has been set up at BAPA Head Office with the support of INSPIRED Project. Distinguished guest, Mr. Md. Khairul Kabir Menon, Deputy Secretary and Deputy Project Director of Bangladesh INSPIRED, said that he visited many activities of BAPA and he was very satisfied with their commitment to the project and their activities.

Mr. Ali Sabet, Team Leader of Bangladesh INSPIRED, firstly expressed his heartiest thanks to the Honourable Minister, Project Director and his team for their participation in the INSPIRED-BAPA closing ceremony and went on to summarise how the INSPIRED SME Competiveness Grant Scheme had been designed by the European Union with the Government of Bangladesh to develop BIOs, and through these BIOs to develop the SME sector; particularly by facilitating the establishment of clusters and strengthening the supply chain. He also expressed thanks to the BAPA project team for their efforts which resulted in over 90 % of activities being successfully completed.

The Special Guest, Mr. Sushen Chandra Das, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries, and Project Director of Bangladesh INSPIRED reminded the participants of the commitment of the Government of Bangladesh to this “thrust” sector. He also said that this sector is well placed to take initiatives in the scope of Public–Private Partnership (PPP) model which would give extra impetus to achieving the 2021 vision

Prof. Dr. Yusuf M Islam, Vice Chancellor of Daffodil International University gave a short brief on entrepreneurship development and explained a model of entrepreneurship development. 

Mr. A F M Fakhrul Islam Munshi, the President of BAPA, gave a synopsis of the agro processing sector and expressed his thanks to the Honourable Minister and other guests for attending in the workshop. He made an appeal to the Honourable Minister to provide more support for agro food processors and suggested a single entity under his Ministry to streamline assistance to the members of the sector.

The Chief Guest, Mr. Alhaz Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Industries, expressed his view that Bangladesh is a country of talented and industrious people and these qualities are demonstrated in the continual development of this sector. He reminded the participants that an estimated 15 million people are working in this sector and of that number 35% of them are women. The Government fully recognises the importance to the country of agro processing and has designated it as a “thrust” sector. He acknowledged that national development depends on the development of industrial sector and SMEs form a large part of industry. He was pleased that BAPA is involved in the process of developing these SMEs and developing the sector in general. He thanked BAPA, INSPIRED Technical Assistance Team and the Ministry of Industries’ officials for their efforts towards the successful achievement of more than 90 % of the activities. The ceremony concluded with a video presentation of the activities and two BAPA members gave speeches describing their success stories, followed by a vote of thanks.