DHAKA, Sept 15, 2020 (BSS) – Farming of a variety of vegetables has changed the life of forty-year-old divorcee Achia Khatun, an inhabitant of Brahmaputra char under Chilmari area of Kurigram district.
Achia started farming of vegetables in his only four kathas of land and now she is growing a variety of vegetables in leased land that has changed her lot. Her 8-year-old daughter Lalita Khatun and 12-year-old son Saiful Islam help in her works.
Like Achia, many women of Brahmaputra-Tista char under Kurigram district have elevated their status by cultivating vegetables. Their contribution to the national economy is immense as they keep up supplying of agri-produces in the markets.
“We lead our lives on labours. We pass our days fighting with the river erosion. I have changed the wheels of fortune of my family through works. Thanks to Lord (Allah)! Now I can count cash,” said Achia.
When visited, it was seen that the people of the vast Brahmaputra-Tista char areas are susceptible to natural calamities, especially floods, river erosion, cold wave and draught. Many people become poor after natural calamities, especially the women become more vulnerable.
A member of Chilmari Union Parisad Rahmatullah said, “We have heard that every year the government allocates much for the char dwellers. But it couldn’t spend due to lack of infrastructure facility. As a representative of people at the grassroots, I urge the government to construct institutional infrastructure here.”
In 2005, Practical Action, a NGO, organized the char areas landless women farmers and inspired them about cultivation of high yielding varieties crops like pumpkin by introducing new technology. At first, it initiated the project at Nilkuthi embankment of Gaibandha, which was later expanded in the rest three districts. To date, 19,000 families have been brought under the project.
It gives advices to the farmers about selection of seeds and proper uses of fertilizers, pesticides and marketing of their produces. Ninety percent beneficiaries of the project are women.
About cultivation process, the NGO workers said, at first, the char areas lands are allocated to the framers after consultation with local administration to cultivate vegetables including pumpkin, tomato, cabbages, beet and carrot. Association (Samity) is also formed with involvement of women in this regard.
Achia, a member of the association, said they take Practical Action’s advice from cultivation to marketing of their produces. “The vegetables we produce are being marketed across the country. The consumers do not know about origin of the vegetables and our labour cost. But vegetables cultivation made us economically self-reliant and raised our social status,” she told in a smiling face.
Last year, 6575 tonnes of pumpkin worth Taka five crore and 26 lac was produced on 2101 hectors of land there.
“I have earned Taka 30,000 cultivating vegetables in previous year,” said Joyonti Rani, adding, “The women in char areas have changed their fortune though growing vegetables and rearing cows.”
Kurigram Agriculture Extension Department deputy director Dr. M Mustafizur Rahman said, the women of the region have made revolution in agriculture by cultivating vegetables with new method, helping raise their socio-economic condition and empowerment.”