Nazia Sarkar, a successful entrepreneur, at her poultry farm in Shajahanpur upazila of Bogra. Photo: Mamunur Rashid
Even before the first light of dawn appears, a tin-shed house and its surroundings, some 13 kilometres off Shajahanpur upazila centre in Bogra district, sees a flurry of activity.
Some people are tending to livestock while others are crouching in vegetable patches working the soil. And going around overseeing the daily chores is a woman in her fifties, holding a cellphone and reading glasses in one hand while pointing out tasks with the other.
This confident mother of four is Nazia Sarkar, an accomplished farmer and entrepreneur whom people in her locality take pride in. She smiles when approached, apparently knowing that she is about to narrate her flight to success once again.
Nazia's journey started off following her marriage at the tender age of 16 while she was studying in class nine. Her husband Motiur Rahman Shishu was frequently bedridden from an unknown illness, affecting the family's source of earning through farming.
Instead of falling into despair, Nazia decided to take up the task of running the family business, a decision she says few women around her took due to the scepticism harboured in an apparent male-dominated society.
With a cow, a 2.5-bigha pond and some 1,000 poultry at her disposal, she ventured out to get training in phases from The Department of Youth Development, Department of Fisheries, Rural Development Academy, Bogra and Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha.
And slowly her endeavours started to bear fruit. She is today the proud owner of 22 cattle, eight ponds on 22 bighas of land and over 10,000 poultry alongside being the employer of seven persons.
Her efforts and achievements got recognised, firstly by the district livestock office in 1993 and 2003 which gave her certificates and monetary awards and then by the fisheries department in 2010. She was even shortlisted for the Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Puraskar in 2011.
At present, two of her children are completing MBA at Rajshahi University, another has graduated from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology while the youngest is in class eight, a testament to the fact that she had impressively juggled her business and family affairs simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Nazia has not stopped at just learning eco-friendly farming. She is disseminating her skills free of cost among the locals through a centre in the courtyard of her home, giving it a name which translates as “rural crop clinic”.
She sees her “clinic” as a beacon of hope for others who are striving to make ends meet, to be an inspiration for others so that they can take the same decision as hers to venture out, a decision that changed her life forever.