For the first time this year, some 500 marginal farmers in Charfesson Upazila of Bhola have joined the safe food movement and successfully produced different types of winter vegetables using organic fertilizers.
By adopting the environmentally-friendly method, they are getting more crops but spending less money as chemical fertilizer is costlier. Moreover, attacks by diseases and harmful insects are minimal in organic farming and can be controlled using indigenous methods.
Now wholesalers are visiting different farms and offering the growers good prices to purchase bulk quantities of various types of winter vegetables, including non-poisonous cauliflower, cabbage, beans, radish, tomatoes and brinjal.
Char Madras Union was chosen by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) as the model area to promote safe farming practices, considering the growing demand for chemical-free fresh vegetables across the country and the local kitchen markets. As a result, these farmers hope to continue safe vegetable farming around the year, engage others with the movement, and change their livelihood.
The farmers have learned about safe vegetable cultivation methods and the importance of consuming poison-free food from the training this year and have met the expectations of the DAE office by producing the vegetables on 100 acres of land.
Farmers of the union — Md Munaf, Omar Farooq and Md Akhtar — said they used to produce vegetables in winter using pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow them faster. But this year, with the help of the DAE, they have learned that the consumption of unsafe vegetables regularly may lead to different complicated diseases, and the cost of production is also higher.
So they chose to produce safe vegetables on two acres of land, which cost them around Tk1,00,000, half the amount they had to spend previously.
Farmers Md Yusuf and Bellal Hossain said the other farmers were inspired seeing their method.
“Moreover, our vegetables are in high demand among local buyers. Also, wholesalers come directly to the fields to buy these vegetables. They are offering good prices and sending these vegetables to different districts of the country,” said Yusuf.
Deputy Assistant Agriculture Officer of the union Bikash Das explained how they had assisted the marginalized farmers with advice for good yield.
Charfesson Upazila Agriculture Extension Officer Md Omar Farooq said they had chosen Char Madras Union to promote the cultivation of safe vegetables. “In the future, we have plans to cultivate poison-free vegetables in the entire upazila,” he added.
Bhola district unit DAE Deputy Director Hasan Waresul Kabir said: “The success stories of the farmers in Char Madras Union are spreading everywhere. We will keep supporting all interested farmers to grow safe vegetables.”