Imarpress

Working for a better future:

Bangladesh Organic Products Manufacturers Association (BOPMA)

Through activism and education, trade association seeks to improve the agricultural industry in Bangladesh


© 2016 Dave / R. Mena

The food industry in Bangladesh is one of its fastest growing sectors, and it employs a significant amount of the working population. Between the growing of crops, and the processing of crops into food products, about 50% of the population works in food.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics reports that nearly 20% of the industrial manufacturing workforce in the country works for a medium-sized food processing company. Food processing is a $4.5 billion industry in Bangladesh, and includes product categories such as dairy, cooking oils, sugar, grain milling, tea, meats, and more.

There’s a reason Bangladesh devotes so much to the production of food: it is an extremely populous country, one that is growing rapidly. In the years between 2000 and 2010, it added some twenty million people to its population, roughly equal to the everyone on the island of Sri Lanka. It is not a great surprise, then, that Bangladesh has the highest population density of any country in the world (aside from city-states such as Hong Kong). It takes a lot to feed 156 million people, and it takes even more to feed them well.

With all of this aggregate food production activity, environmental impact and agricultural efficacy have become major concerns. BOPMA, or the Bangladesh Organic Products Manufacturers Association, is a union of Bangladeshi food and natural products companies that are working to call attention to, and solve, these and other growing problems.

Unlike many business associations, BOPMA’s main concern isn’t reducing competition or carving out a market niche. In fact, it is quite the opposite. BOPMA would love nothing more than to increase the amount of organic product growers and producers in the country, and the reason why is pressing and urgent.

With all the agricultural activity in Bangladesh, and the subsequent manufacturing and food processing, polluting byproducts are being realized by the ton. Industrial chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used in abundance in agriculture, and over years of use, concentrations of these synthetic chemicals in the soil, and in nearby water sources, increase, and ill-effects begin to mount. With prolonged abuse of soil and polluted water run-off, it actually becomes more and more difficult to grow food. The soil becomes unworkable and devoid of nutrients, and must be abandoned.

© 2016 Dave / R. Mena

BOPMA calls for a turn towards sustainable farming methods and technologies that can keep a piece of land healthy and productive for years to. These methods, apart from the stuffy marketing term “organic” that gets thrown around in the West, are real, and have been used in certain locales for over a hundred years. These include old staples such as strategic crop rotation, intercropping, and leaving crop residues to be ploughed into the soil. BOPMA also calls for an end of the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and using organic materials instead. Additionally, BOPMA stresses the importance of protecting growing areas with fences and reigning in water run-off with ditches and canals, in order to prevent water pollution.

BOPMA and its members understand the importance of feeding a nation, and have devoted themselves to changing the status-quo to better achieve that goal. Bangladesh’s overreliance on seeds from mega-corporations from outside the country have resulted in a costly, and underproductive agricultural industry. With improvements, the entire country can benefit. Reduced pressure on a hunger problem could alleviate symptoms of poverty, and the economic benefits would be enormous.

BOPMA has worked hard in getting its message out. One way it does that is by organizing the annual Natural & Organic Products Expo, which brings its ideas and the results of organic farming techniques to retailers. By increasing demand for quality organically farmed products, more and more farmers will adopt these techniques to meet the market’s demand, meaning more environmentally sustainable agriculture.

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BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.

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