Many char people are happy getting bumper output of pumpkin with lucrative price this season to tackle the coronavirus pandemic situation in Rangpur agriculture region.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension and different NGOs said that large-scale cultivation of pumpkin began on sandy char lands in the silted-up beds of different rivers in all five districts of the region since 2009.
Braving the COVID-19 pandemic situation, char people have cultivated pumpkin with other Rabi crops on char lands adopting intercropping and mixed relay methods this time to reap pleasing profits as harvest of the crop is nearing completion now.
The DAE, Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institution, RDRS Bangladesh and other non-governmental organisations extended assistance to char people to promote cultivation of various crops, including pumpkin, on char lands.
Additional director of the DAE for Rangpur region agriculturist Khandker Abdul Wahed said that cultivation of pumpkin with other crops on char lands was efficiently cutting poverty and improving livelihoods of many char people in recent years.
Adapting to natural disasters like floods and river erosion, many char and riverside people achieved self-reliance by cultivating pumpkins with other crops using intercropping methods on char lands in the last 12 years across the region.
‘Putting maximum efforts on ensuring best use of char lands, the DAE provided support and technologies to people living in char areas to increase crop output for improving their livelihoods and attaining food security amid changing climate,’ he said
As the farming cost of pumpkins is low, char people have cultivated pumpkins on more char lands and silted-up beds of the Teesta, Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Dharla, Kartoa, Ghaghot and other rivers to complete harvest of the crops by May next.
Senior coordinator (agriculture and environment) of RDRS Bangladesh agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said that around 55,000 char families so far changed fortunes through farming pumpkins with other crops on char lands in the region.
‘As harvest of pumpkins is nearing completion, char people are selling every piece of pumpkins at rates between Tk 40 and 70 depending on size and varieties to wholesalers and middlemen to reap better profits and lead a better life,’ he said.
Farmers Mofizul Haque, Fazlul Haque and Amena Begum of Char Dakshin Balapara Kutirpar village in Aditmari upazila of Lalmonirhat said that they achieved self-reliance through pumpkin farming on char lands.
‘A farmer generally spends Tk 1,500 for cultivating pumpkin on 120 sandbars and sells 500 pieces of pumpkin at Tk 18,000 on an average to earn a net profit of Tk 17,000 each,’ said farmer Mofizul Haque.
Char farmers Abdur Razzaque, Kochhim Uddin, Morsheda Begum and Mahbub Alam of village Char Paschim Mohipur in Gangachara upazila of Rangpur also narrated their success stories of winning poverty and attaining self-reliance through pumpkin cultivation.
They had cultivated pumpkins on 150 sandbars on an average each on the Teesta riverbed and earned net profits of Tk 26,000 each after completing harvest last week.