- Arindam Bala
- Bangladesh is overall deemed blessing for agriculture because of geographic location where all elements are in favor for mass production, and it is now claimed she is independently able to produce required food grain. However, due to climate disruption for example excessive rainfall caused flash flood, hail storm; drought lead to scarcity of ground water, cyclone makes impediments to ensure production, whatever those are yielded it is difficult to harvest. And marginal farmers these days are losing their enthusiastic to cultivate paddy, because they are claiming the production cost is much more than market price of paddy.
- Abdul Kader, story of changing, before 2017, 53, son of Aube Miah, resident of Daskin Lamua, Sreemongal Upazila, Mouvibazar, was a CNG driver by profession, but now he is a model farmer in his locality and has eventually become able to quit that such risk profession. By using new technology-mulch film in vegetable cultivation, he started with 8 decimals early in 2018 but now it has reached to 38 decimals where he produces cucumber as well as tomato those are very profitable perhaps this area is considered rainfall prone area. Lastly he has invested TK 67000 in 38 decimals but profited TK 28000 from by producing cucumber in fact he has sold out overall TK 95000 by spending 120 days in this cultivation. And Kader has even created employment for local day labors those earn a some amount of money from his farming plots. Besides, he (Kader) also incomes TK 500 as remuneration for one plot by selling out consultancy to others farmers – set up mulch and provides other technical aspects. So, it can be said agriculture based livelihoods developing gradually.
Photos: Abdul Kader collecting cucumber from mulch used plot
- He informed me, the east part where I have been grown up is sighted ups and downs hill tracks that are covered green belt and slope area is magnificent beauty of enormous tea garden that beckons tourist and west part where lies a vast water body haor (Hail Haor) based which is famous for indigenous fish breeding ground. This area is known to all for paddy cultivation not for vegetable production, whatever less amount is produced farmers are to rely on rain water because of absence irrigation facilities since surface as well as underground water source is extremely scarcity, as a result even most of the time the land remain fellow land. These lands have eventually turned to familiar for vegetable cultivation through mulch film supported by BRAC-Chevron JIBIKA project where Tarek Nasir Ullah works as Sector Specialist–Agriculture & Livelihood who transfers technical knowledge to farmers regarding of using mulch through Village Development Organization (VDO).
- Some farmers like Sufi Miah, Nyum Miah, Kodor Miah, Aslam Miah (Sreemongal) Alim Uddin (Kosba, Nobigonj), Muklesur Rahaman (Donokandi, Sylhet) who have appeared as pioneer to others because they have never seen such technology in vegetable cultivation. I try to know from those farmers as to production quality and quantity where they practice mulch. They make a comparison between production with mulch and without mulch. It is only example of Abdul Kader, he spent TK 13000 in 8 decimal, but he earned TK 27000 excluded its expenditure (he sold out in total TK 40,000). And in production quantity, by using mulch he gets 180-200 kilograms from per decimal, while 50-60 kilogram without mulch. Moreover, in terms of quality; plant growth, health, fruit and flower setting more in mulch rather than without mulch. Consequently, more famers are becoming interested to use this new technology and the unused land will be undertaking as cultivation land.
- Not only paddy producers have been involved in this particular vegetable production, but tribe communities living hilly area are not familiar with plain land agriculture; they are accustomed with contour method cultivation where they produce pineapple, lemon and banana and work in tea garden ultimately they have been involved first time themselves in such modern cucumber farming where mulch film have been used and become benefited. I visited Gupta Debbarma and Prokash Debbarma (tribe communities) farming plot at Daluchara, Sremongal, to learn the cucumber cultivation benefits, where cultivated plots were at time fellow land, and talk to them why they have initiated such practice, they have provided information me due to sloping area as well as heavy downpour we could not produce any vegetable, but by using mulch we have succeed.
Photos: Abdul Kader collecting cucumber from mulch used plot
- Though mulch film has become a globally applied agricultural practice for its instant economic benefits, it is a little bit new phenomenon in Bangladesh, and it is fully different in this region. I talked to the farmer to know why they are practicing such a method and what the benefits are. They have informed that mulch farming offer many potential advantages for us those are it is year around benefitted cultivation method. The mulching technology ensures to optimum growing condition than the traditional method, and there has not been any weather-related production failure due to drought, excessive rainfall and pests. And it is possible to earlier harvests, improved products quality and increased water-use efficiency because the soil temperature remains resilience consequently irrigation is less significant for cultivation in any land. In addition, growing weed is ignored as it is difficult to reach sunlight into soil that is why film much check to grow any kind of weeds in the farming land thus this practice is labor incentives. It is not only addressed to control salinity from the land, but play a pivotal role to promote soil erosion from surrounded plant in rainy season. Besides mulch also help to control leaching minerals from soil as well as roots spread all over soil, and also it assists on micro-climate change at surrounded vegetable plant. Moreover, it is very rare to be needed pesticide to ensure insects management. Here, it is mentionable that the price of mulch film even though is a little bit higher to marginal farmers; it can be used four-time.
- Market value as well as demand of these product noticeable, familiar customers show eagerness to purchase mulch film used vegetable because these products are much more looks different (color, size, shape) than those produced by traditional method according to customers. Specially, almost all demanded vegetables come to Sreemongla, Moulvibazar from outside such as Norsingdi, Bramanbaria and so on.
- Nilufar Yasmin Monalisa Sweety (BCS Agriculture), Upazila Agricultural Officer, Sreemongal Upazila, Moulvibazar said being affected excessive rainfall area, at Sreemongal, it is extremely industrious to cultivate any vegetable and even a tendency seems to be possibility to damage before collecting expected production. In this term, by using mulch film in this rain prone area has been approached as new technology to ensure vegetable cultivation from excessive as well as uneven rainfall. Especially, by using this technology in rainy season it has been possible to produce high value vegetable like (cucumber, tomato) that will encourage others farmers to cultivate such products.
- Tarek Nasir Ullah, Sector Specialist –Agriculture & Livelihood, BRAC, said it is new learning, ripe tomato is very favorite food for some birds like Nightingale (bulbuli), but where mulch is used for tomato production there is remain reflection of silver color resulting that birds become less interest to enjoy such vegetable.
- Finally mulch film has drawn attention not only Abdul Kader, Gupta Debbarma, Alim Uddin, Muklesur Rahaman, but others in the in and around. Replication of this method is obvious and it is expanding gradually resulting enthusiastic attitude of the marginal farmers has grown and other are motivated.
- Writer is an Environment Activist.
- Writer can be reached at email@example.com
- All pictures of Abdul Kader