When life gives you lemon, make lemonade | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 20, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:01 AM, March 23, 2015

When life gives you lemon, make lemonade

Crop cultivation on dried riverbeds, char lands becoming popular as main livelihood for landless
Bss, Rangpur

Cultivation of various crops on dry riverbeds and low-lying char lands has become popular as the main source of livelihood for thousand of extremely poor people who have become landless due to river erosion.

These farmers in the northern region of Bangladesh have already started expecting a bumper harvest this year like in the previous years.

The dried-up riverbeds and char lands of Brahmaputra, Teesta, Dharla, Ghaghot, Jamuna and other rivers have producing excellent crop yields.

According to officials of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) and relevant NGOs, cultivation on these pieces of land was possible due to massive deposition of alluvial soil there brought about by climate change.

Crops like rice (Boro), maize, wheat, onion, garlic, groundnut, 'china', 'kawn', pulses, 'gunji till', tobacco, pumpkin, gourd, corn, pulses, mustard, and watermelon have grown well on these pieces of land.

The landless char people, small and marginal farmers have brought over 85,000 hectares of land under crop cultivation this year.

Landless people like Abdul Aziz of Nilphamari, Farman Ali of Lalmonirhat, Nur Islam of Kurigram and Manju Rani of Gaibandha also expect bumper harvest of their crops, particularly pumpkin, cultivated on char lands.

They said each of them cultivated pumpkin on 200 sandbars raised on silted-up beds spending Tk 13,000 on an average.

They plan to sell the produce at Tk 30,000 next month to earn a net profit of Tk 17,000.  

Manager (Agriculture) of Practical Action Bangladesh Nirmal Chandra Bepari said 14,357 families who have become landless due to river erosion have achieved success by cultivating pumpkin on 5,099 acres of sandy-barren char lands in five greater Rangpur districts alone since 2009.

Khondker Md Mesbahul Islam, horticulture specialist of the DAE, said crop cultivation on these lands has been taking place due to drying up and silting up of rivers with emergence of shoals following adverse impacts of climate change.

Despite better crop production on dried up riverbeds, there is no alternative to reviving water flows in the rivers for a better future, environment, agriculture, bio-diversity and ecology, said Agriculture and Environment Coordinator of RDRS Bangladesh Mamunur Rashid.

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