Feb 01, 2010
The homestead vegetables gardens have helped more than 15,000 families of 150 villages in northwestern Bangladesh overcome poverty and achieve economic self-reliance. Earlier most of them were living in abject poverty in the erosion-prone sandy chars.
Bangladesh, Rangpur: More than 15,000 poor families of 150 villages including vast char areas under 20 upazilas of five districts in greater Rangpur achieved economic self-reliance through vegetables cultivation during the past few years.
As a result of huge vegetables farming, monga, a seasonal phenomenon that creates extreme poverty and shatters life of the poor in the char areas including landless farm-labourers during the months of Aswin and Kartik every year, now starts disappearing.
Before taking up vegetables farming as the means of their subsistence, most of them were in abject poverty in the erosion-prone sandy chars on the Brahmaputra, Teesta and Dharla basins in Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Nilphamari districts.
Now they are leading a completely changed life with three-time meals a day, sanitary facilities and their children going to schools, madrashas and also the NGO-run informal educational institutions and dreaming for a better life in the desired digital Bangladesh.
Experts told BSS that dozens of NGOs, Department of Agriculture Extension, Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation created awareness among the extreme poor and helped changing their lots.
Experts, local people and officials in the district and upazila administrations said that those, who were extremely poor four years ago, are now leading, somewhat, a solvent life only because of the vegetable farming.
They said vegetables are being cultivated on more than 30,000 hectares of lands including the vast tracts of sandy-barren char areas since 2005, with the total acreage increasing every year and encouraging more people towards growing various vegetables.
Besides, homestead vegetables gardening in recent years in the vast char areas by the women has also brought a revolutionary change in the economy of char life and women empowerment there.
With the help of NGOs and other organisations, huge quantities of vegetables are being produced in 35 char villages of the Teesta basin under Gangachara, Pirgachha and Kawnia upazilas in Rangpur, changing the life of over 700 families in a shorter period.
Farmers are selling around 15,000 tonnes of vegetables every year alone in Aditmari upazila of Lalmonirhat district. “Our total income will be higher if we get proper marketing and preservation facilities,” said Parvez Alam of village Choritabari.
He earns Taka 300,000 every year by cultivating `Borboti’ on his land. “Farming of this variety of vegetable has brought happiness in my family and the people now call me Borboti Parvez,” he said with a sense of pride.
Kashem Ali, Abdus Salam, Bankim Chandra of Madhupur and Gilabari villages and Solaiman Ali, Abdul Malek, Altaf Hossain and others like Parvez narrated similar stories about their success they achieved through vegetables farming.
Abdul Kuddus of Komlabari village is now well known as ‘Chichinga Kuddus’ and Abdul Matin as ‘Korola Matin’ as both the farmers brought about a revolutionary change in their life by producing these two varieties of vegetables at initial stages.
Similarly, `Papaya Yunus’ of village Hajiganj said his net profit is Taka 400,000 every year from papaya farming on an area of 40 decimals only.
“I do not feel bad when people call me Papaya Yunus,” he said. The villagers grow vegetables, fruits and spices like `Korola’, `Chichinga’, `Borboti’, `Choi’, `Baro patol’, `Choto patol’, `Kakrol’, `Jhinga’, `Shosha’, `Pani kumra’, `Misti kumra’, `Lomba Lau’, brinjal, cauliflower, lemon, chilly, onion, garlic, water melon, guava, `boroi’ and banana.
Agri-scientist Dr MA Mazid, expert Kamal Shariful Alam and Head of Agriculture of Rangpur-Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) MG Neogi told the national news agency that vegetables and fruits farming have brought about a revolutionary change in the rural economy in these areas.
“The growers do not always get better prices of their produces as the middlemen vegetable traders are generally being found to be the main beneficiaries due to the lack of adequate marketing and preservation facilities in the area,” they said.
Farmers said they had to incur losses up to 15% during harvesting periods and processing their vegetables.
“Around 20% vegetables are perished only due to the absence of preserving facilities,” Kashem Ali of Gilabari village said.
Vegetables growers called for setting up agro-based industries and processing plants and hoped for better preservation and processing facilities as the government has made Rangpur division for paying due attentions to all sectors for quicker development of the area.
Trainer of RDRS Sumona Sharmin told that over 8,800 landless families of 85 char villages in Roumari, Rajibpur and Roumari upazilas in Kurigram are achieving self-reliance thru’ vegetables farming and other supports being provided under the Char Livelihood Programme.
This article was originally published in Nam News Network.