The farmers said they gained a minimum of Tk5000, sometimes higher, through their newly adopted means of cultivation
The ever-going fluctuations in paddy and rice prices in the country have made farmers uncertain about properly financing their cultivation. Increasing numbers of them are opting out for other professions.
Jhenaidah farmers are not an exception to this new trend. The prices they receive for their product fluctuates through the seasons in tandem with the ever-changing inflation rates in the international and national markets.
Despite such circumstances, an organization named “Share the Planet Association,” funded by the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGI), took an initiative in 2019 to assist farmers in 20 villages of Kaliganj upazila.
The approach, known as Water Use Efficient Agriculture Practice(WEAP) program and organized by Sonar Bangla Foundation, a local NGO, assists the farmers with funds, logistic support, training and constant monitoring of the farmlands under the project, said Shibupada Biswas, deputy director of Sonar Bangla Foundation.
Explaining the total cost he spent before taking on the initiative, Chandu Biswas, a farmer of Sundarpur village said he only received Tk3100 out of his one bigha farmland in the last season.
“The cultivation cost is high, and farmers like me were considering switching our profession as the profit we used to get was not enough to maintain a family,” added a sad farmer Chandu.
He said he spent Tk20,000 on his field, he obtained 1.32 tonnes of paddy from it. Owing to the price range, though, he had not made any profits.
However, Chandu along with 300 other farmers, have been relatively happy and hopeful after taking on the new project by the NGO.
Describing the process, Mohadebpur farmer Nasim Mandal said the farmers had dug a small pond adjacent to their farmland. Afterwards, in the monsoon rainwater filled it up and now they use it to irrigate their land, thus saving on their irrigation cost that previously had ranged minimum from Tk2000.
Not only that, said Sufal Ghosh of Bejpara, taking up the thread of the conversation from Nasim, “We also farm fish in the pond and harvest seasonal vegetables around the pond,” Sufal added.
The farmers said they gained a minimum of Tk5000, sometimes higher, through their newly adopted means of cultivation.
Tofayel Ahmed, program coordinator of Sonar Bangla Foundation, said the project had been initiated in 20 areas of two unions, and 300 farmers were reaping benefits from the self-sufficient cultivation method.
The process itself is very easy to implement and so benefits both farmers and the environment, Tofayel said while describing the initiative.
“We are not only providing the farmers with logistics, we also raise awareness and train them on various scientific aspects of farming,” the official added.
Nasir Mandal, a farmer of Mohadebpur, said the foundation had helped him to dig a pond on his land which enabled him to irrigate his land better and made him hopeful of receiving a good profit this season.
“I with other farmers were imparted necessary training and given logistics from the organization. I think I know better about farming now than in the past,” Nasir said.
Jahidul Karim, Agriculture Officer of Kaliganj, noted his appreciation of the project, describing the initiative as praiseworthy.
However, he pointed to the limitations the project had in cases of larger areas of land and limited water resources. He said: “The approach is a blessing for ensuring a balance in bio-diversity and yet the extent to which it can be used in summer is questionable.”