Bangladesh is a low-lying, riverine country. While the mangroves and waterways of southern Bangladesh make it vulnerable to flooding, they also make boats an effective mode of inland transportation. The company Ispahani Agro Limited had previously carried out conventional roadshows, in which company representatives would drive to different villages in the Jashore and Barisal Divisions to spread awareness about their high-quality agricultural inputs. However, in 2019, the company found some areas of Barisal that it could not reach via roads but that were well-suited to boat-based promotions.

The Feed the Future Bangladesh Rice and Diversified Crops (RDC) Activity, funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, supported these boat-based promotions as an innovative way for the company to promote its products and for smallholder farmers to learn about better quality inputs to improve their crops. The RDC Activity partners with several private sector companies like Ispahani Agro Limited to create systemic change within Bangladesh’s agricultural sector. These changes aim to, ultimately, increase the incomes, food security, and nutrition of rural households.

The company laid out a route to reach the maximum number of people possible. It also decorated the boats in bright colors and displayed posters containing product and agricultural information.

In 2019, Ispahani Agro Limited piloted its “boat show” approach and received positive feedback that spurred them on. In 2020, the company partnered with the RDC Activity again to expand and enhance the approach and to continue spreading awareness and building the agricultural literacy of previously unserved farmers who were not reached through conventional promotions.

Using loudspeakers, these boats broadcast promotions about different products as well as details of where the boats will anchor for those interested in learning more. Once anchored at the riverbank, the boats serve as a stage for continued interactions. Employees of Ispahani Agro Limited then have the opportunity to interact with farmers, agro-dealers, and retailers in several new locations.  

This novel approach is building customer loyalty and increasing the company’s sales and market share. As a facilitator of this and other market-based approaches, the RDC Activity is optimistic that such an innovative promotional strategy can have a sustainable impact on agricultural value chains as well as serve hard-to-reach communities.

Learn more about the Feed the Future Bangladesh Rice and Diversified Crops Activity.

Learn more about our work in Bangladesh.