Entrepreneur Zillur Rahman in Jhalakathi district of Barisal division found success in solving a local problem; the solution was an auto rice mill in his locality.
As a grocery shop owner in 2010, he used to collect rice from the country's northern districts as there was no auto rice mill in southern areas. He had made advance payments but still the rice mills failed to deliver rice in time on several occasions.
Around the same time, Zillur saw trucks laden with mounds of paddy from southern districts travel to the northern region. Farmers in Jhalakathi and Barisal often had to sell paddy at less than the fair price and that prompted Zillur to consider setting up an auto rice mill in his area.
He opened Sugandha Auto Rice Ltd in 2016 and logged profit in the first year itself as the market had a good demand for rice that year. Zillur also could sell rice at a lower price than mills in the northern districts for his low transport cost of paddy.
The mill produces 5 tonnes of rice per hour and around 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes a month, which is sold in surrounding districts at Tk40 to Tk41 per kg. Most rice is now supplied to the government without profit.
From the huge quantity of byproducts being piled up from husking paddy, Zillur felt inspired to establish a poultry and cattle feed mill. Sugandha Feed Mill Ltd was completed in 2019 with financial support of Bangladesh Islami Bank of Tk21 crore. The mill became operational that year.
In a matter of two years, the company has built its capacity and started delivering feed across the country.
The feed mill produces 38 kinds of feed for cattle, poultry and fish.
The factory is importing maize, soyabean, oilcake and vitamins from Brazil, India, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Argentina as raw materials, and producing 35 tonnes of feed per hour and monthly 6,000 to 6,500 tonnes. Per tonne of feed is sold at Tk40,000.
The feed factory sells products worth at least Tk5.5 million a day.
The company's value is now at least Tk250crore.
"The animal feed has a huge demand in the market and we are considering expanding our operations," said Zillur, managing director of the company.
At least 550 people have got the chance of earning their livelihoods working for Sugandha Rice and Feed Ltd.
"We are happy to see the factories in the areas help local people in farming poultry, cattle and fish," said Mizanur Rahman, chairman of the company.
Now, Sugandha Rice and Feed Ltd at Timirkathi of Nalchity makes yearly transactions of Tk400 crore, including for imports of raw materials to produce feed.
From where he stands now, Zillur Rahman recalls the arduous journey he has made after he completed his masters from Jagannath University in 1996. Between 1996 and 2005, he sold construction materials in Nalchity Bazar. Later, he opened a grocery store.
Before setting up his rice mill, he visited mills in northern districts. "Then I got a partner for land and finally started our auto rice mill spending Tk6.5 crore." Pubali Bank helped make the investment.
Sugandha Rice and Feed Ltd has made a remarkable example of success in entrepreneurship at Timirkathi of Nalchity, which would inspire others to launch new ventures to usher in changes in the local economy.