Request for Proposals
October, 2019

WorldFish, implementer of the USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture and Nutrition Activity, invites qualified firms and individuals to propose a program to introduce a new, high yield variety of carp into the food markets of Bangladesh.

The USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture and Nutrition Activity (BANA) is intended to foster sustained, positive aquaculture sector growth through an inclusive market system approach. BANA sustainably improves the livelihoods of fish farmers and other aquaculture market actors by applying a market systems approach through which BANA works with the private sector to identify systemic obstacles as well as solutions. BANA and the partners then test the solution via activities funded through sub-awards and significant co-funding. BANA works in the Bangladesh Feed the Future Zone of Influence (ZOI, consisting of 21 south-western districts) and the Zone of Resilience (ZOR, two south-east districts).

Background

WorldFish initiated the Carp Genetic Improvement Program (GIP) in 2012 with financial support from USAID. Other support has come from IFAD and the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems.

This has been an intensive and long running scientific effort. In 2012, seed from three wild rohu and catla stocks was collected as spawn from the Halda, Jamuna, and Padma rivers and then reared to maturity. During this same period silver carp brood stock was collected from a number of private and public hatcheries across the country. The intent was to develop families of known parentage that could be crossed with the aim of increasing performance while retaining genetic diversity.

For rohu (locally called rui), this resulted in 210 families of fry. Trials determined that there was little difference between culture systems, and heritability was high. After two years, the fastest growing fish were selected from each family to form the first generation of the improved line. First-generation rui were cultured in eight ponds and produced 240 families of the second generation in 2018 and are now being reared in communal ponds.

The dissemination plan has always been based on the promise of a "significant level of improvement" which is expected to be reached in the third generation. As originally planned, these three generations will take six to nine years to develop in total and will result in growth rates at least 30% faster than the base population.

Given Feed the Future's clear focus on improved nutrition and profitable agriculture to provide it, there is high interest in moving these fish into the market more quickly.

To do this, the carp GIP needs a comprehensive marketing plan.

In commercial terms, the value of genetically improved carp is improved yield, and the market will be driven by those who capture this value-- farmers.

For these improved carp, increased yield is generated by faster growth rates (and, to a degree, reduced mortality loss). A fish of sellable size can be grown in about 18 months instead of 24 leading to a substantial increase in incomes for farmers who raise the new variety.

Convincing the farmers that this is true and persuading them to buy the improved fingerlings (presumably at a premium price) will be BANA's challenge. It will also be important to ensure the farmers rear them properly to ensure the full gains the improved genetics carry-- and to continue to prove to a skeptical market that the claims of faster growth are true.

The introduction of this new strain of carp into production system will face many obstacles beyond the dissemination of the genetically improved eggs, spawn, and fingerlings, and the issues currently inhibiting high output will still remain: fish health remains an ongoing problem; there is poor pond management; feed quality is not as good or consistent as it needs to be; there are gross deficiencies in the business management of hatcheries, nurseries, and farms; and transportation at every level is inefficient and often interrupted. These and more are beyond our control as we try to build a market system for the improved carp variety; this is simply the environment in which we work.

Needed

This is understood to be a multi-year effort. What is needed now is the preparation and execution of a new product launch marketing plan. This marketing plan will describe actions intended to address the issues within our control-- or, at least, our influence.

We need an experienced expert in marketing-- experienced in new product launches-- to lead this effort and directly perform many needed functions.

This will be a very challenging, hands on assignment. Bangladesh is a difficult place to live and work, and successful implementation of the launch will require strong market leaders but our probable private sector partners are not yet market leaders.

Location

The successful applicant will work out of the WorldFish office in Dhaka. The office is modern and fully equipped.

Dhaka is a huge city, congested, with air quality problems. It is envisioned that the applicant will live here for one year, and in all candor living here is not for everyone-- experience in the developing world is required in the successful applicant. You will find a good apartment and everything else you need.

Most project activity is to the south, in a district called Jessore and the districts around it. The city of Jessore is fairly well developed though infrastructure is not great. Travel between the cities is by air and comfortable.

There are no real issues with security, though such things change as we all know. In terms of health, dengue fever is the only concern; this is not a malaria area.

The Program

As it is currently envisioned, it seems advisable to implement a phased approach to the development of a market for the new variety. This will allow BANA to work with private sector partners who have been proven reliable, are stable businesses, and are fully committed to the monitoring and oversight that will be necessary. As it looks now:

In a market introduction phase, BANA will select 3 or 4 hatcheries and 8 or 10 nurseries in a single market area, a reasonably contiguous geographic area with acceptable logistics and integration of other needed services. These numbers are estimates made at the time of this writing. As we work out the details of a manageable market test, we will finalize how many hatcheries and nurseries will be needed, but it will be a small number.

To find these, BANA will build on its earlier work with brood farms when WorldFish distributed good quality carp eggs (not this improved variety) over three years. In the first year the cost of eggs was fully paid by Worldfish, in year two WorldFish paid 70% of the market price, and in year three the cost was split equally. In that final year, 36 hatcheries and 10 sources of eggs participated.

In selecting from this list, the consultant and BANA will apply the development principles of "economic gardening". This is an economic growth strategy built on historical evidence which shows that economic growth in a place is almost always driven by a fairly small number of adaptable, well led enterprises. These grow because their leadership identifies new opportunities early and takes action to exploit them. The key point is to find business decision makers who are willing to move quickly on this new variety with the understanding that there is no market evidence to back up the claims of the carp GIP.

BANA will support these fast growing firms by working in the market system in which they operate through its sub-grant program. As a market systems program, BANA will complement their operations by designing and implementing interventions (not to be included in this proposal) that address identified causes of problems in the partners' markets such as a lack of trust between market actors, lack of market information, poor transportation options, and similar.

During the first few months of this first phase, the consultant, BANA, and the partners will work out the operational specifics and processes to ensure monitoring and the needed segregation of the new variety. When this achieved new nurseries can be added.

Next, in a controlled growth phase, the consultant and BANA will enroll additional hatcheries and nurseries to cover a larger area. Perhaps this will be a district, but the critical determinants at this stage will be in the market-- the density of fish farms and the nurseries' ability to supply them.

During this period new hatcheries, nurseries, and farms will begin to buy the products because they see the value it brings to them. BANA is able to facilitate this via sub-grant to one or more Bangladeshi advertising and marketing firms. The sub-award (not included in this proposal) will enable these agencies to begin a client relationship with hatcheries and nurseries. The agencies will help the hatcheries and nurseries create a brand identify for the new strain and promote themselves as providers of a provably higher yield variety. At this point, pending the results of the promotional strategy development, a likely name for the genetically improved carp could be "HYV Carp"-- HYV means high yield variety and is a commonly used acronym in agriculture in Bangladesh.

Concurrent with this, BANA will apply elements of the cluster approach to economic growth. In this approach, the basic idea is that when a significant number of producers exist in a certain place and that these enterprises have common needs-- demand for reliable, timely, and sanitary transportation of their product, for example, or high quality feed-- and a program like BANA can influence the development of support services and suppliers of needed inputs in the area. These will be additional sub-grant activities to be determined and are not included in this proposal.

This phase will end after the period of this consulting assignment, about 15-18 months from the first introduction in order to allow the first fingerlings of the new variety to grow for a year and be measured, so it important that the successful applicant lay the ground work for a full roll-out phase.

This will be possible after the first of the new variety have grown for close to two years and sales data begins to accumulate to a valid level. At this point, BANA will be able to facilitate expansion to the full area in which Feed the Future operates (the 'zone of influence, most of the southwest of the country).

The consultant will deliver a plan to BANA to detail activities beyond the end of this assignment to promote the new variety in addition to the proprietary sales growth activities of the participating hatcheries and nurseries. BANA will implement this plan in its final 18 months of operation.

This sequence of progressive expansion, applying proven economic development principles, and building on work already done forms a sound framework for market acceptance of the new variety, and a professionally developed and guided new product launch marketing plan will carry HYV Carp throughout the ZOI within BANA's planned timeframe.

In addition, be aware that HYV Carp is needed outside the ZOI, and World Fish has programs operating in Mymensingh and the Chittagong area which are positioned to facilitate this market expansion. This 'fourth phase' must be included in the new product launch marketing plan. With proven market results in hand by this point, market growth should be comparatively rapid; moving from the 'early adopters' to 'early majority', as the innovation life cycle puts it.

 

Additional information

BANA has begun work on this program. In addition to exhaustive work on the technical aspects of breeding and raising these fish, work has been completed on a number of marketing aspects. Among these:

  1. An inquiry into the commercial viability of this market system which focuses on market actors to analyze viability at the enterprise level and forecast the profitability of a firm engaged in the businesses of breeding and raising carp.
  2. Surveys of fish farmers regarding price sensitivity to brood stock to build our understanding of decision making by farmers.
  3. Cost accounting to determine the probable cost to produce brood stock.
  4. A market test of a smart phone app which connects buyers and sellers of fish which be useful for use in the improved carp market because this market will be, at first, a niche market with a fairly limited user group and because it will provide transaction data for use in refined marketing plans.

And BANA is soliciting an international partner to work on food safety traceability through blockchain. This might be combined with the carp GIP program and its 'contained' market system to demonstrate a pond to plate tracing system.

 

Deliverables

  1. New product launch marketing plan within three months of award. The applicant is encouraged to fix interim dates for a draft and approval by BANA.
  2. An expert to lead the program in in-country for 12 months.
  3. Active, hands on leadership of implementation of the launch plan for nine months.
  4. A follow on plan which details activities beyond the end of this assignment to promote the new variety in addition broadly in BANA's final 18 months of operation to be submitted by the beginning of the twelfth month.

 


Submission details

Interested parties should submit a one page inquiry on the attached form before 02 November, 2019,
either online or via email to: wfbanaproject@cgiar.org mentioning the title of solicitation in the subject line.