Landless farmers in Saghata upazila are turning unused land alongside regional highways green by cultivating vegetables -- thanks to a laudable initiative by Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in the upazila.
Inspired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directive of bringing every inch of unused land under cultivation, the DAE undertook an initiative titled 'Blue Gold Programme' across the country.
Under the programme, the DAE is engaging landless farmers to grow vegetables on unused land beside thousands of kilometres of roads and highways throughout the country.
The cultivation of vegetables by the landless farmers in Saghata is part of the programme along the regional highway between Mithapukur upazila in Rangpur and Saghata upazila in Gaibandha.
According to the DAE, a huge amount of land beside the country's roads and highways -- 3,790 km national highway, 4,206 km regional highway, 13,121 km district level roads and 3,33,589 km local roads -- essentially lay unused, covered with useless plants, bushes and creepers.
The DAE now aims to make good use of this land by turning it into a source of additional income for the landless farmers through cultivation of vegetables.
Landless farmer Asadul Islam, who lives by the regional highway in Jadurtair village of Saghata upazila, is one of the beneficiaries of the DAE programme.
He said he grew bean, gourd, bitter gourd, chili and onion by the highway. "After meeting my family's needs, I was able to earn some money from sale of the excess produce."
Appreciating the initiative, Ayesuddin, another beneficiary in the same area, said the idea of growing vegetables beside the road by the landless was unthinkable before.
Golam Mowla, sub-assistant agriculture officer in Saghata upazila, said the programme will not only help the landless people living by the roads, but will also contribute to the overall production of vegetables in the country.
Rezwanul Islam, the officer responsible for implementing the 'Blue Gold Programme', said the project was undertaken to bring unusable land under cultivation after bringing into consideration the rise in loss of agricultural land to unplanned construction of different sorts and the impact of climate change on agricultural land.