Housewife Shirina Begum, who set an example of producing bumper crops, especially vegetables, on a small land, has now become a role model for many female growers at her native Maynakuti village in Rangpur Sadar upazila.
Seeing her success, around 120 women of the village are now engaged in crop farming and are getting regular suggestions from Shirina on farming of various crops.
Although thirty-five-year-old Shirina, who married Rashedul Islam about 18 years ago, used to help her husband in crop farming after their marriage, she could not engage fully due to other household works.
After her husband Rashedul had a brain stroke and lost his physical and mental balance in 2014, she fully engaged herself with crop farming to maintain her four-member family.
Besides her ailing husband, she has to bear the responsibility of her college going daughter Towfika Akhter Prity and son Towhidul Islam, a Class VI student.
In a bid to support her family, she first started crop farming on only 50 decimals of land belonging to her husband and then took lease of another 100 decimals from two neighbours Sirajul Islam and Rezaul Karim for Tk 45,000 per year and started to produce vegetables and vegetable seeds there.
In 2015, she enlisted with Geodata Based Information Services (GEOBIS), a project of Lal Teer Seed Ltd, for advisory services.
After the enlistment, she started receiving advice through her mobile phone on proper cultivation such as right sowing techniques, how to treat the soil, transplanting, preventing pest attack and harvesting the produce.
She subscribed to the SMS service of GEOBIS so that she could receive weather forecast report. It also connected her with the Call Centre Service to listen the expert's advice.
“Prior to enlisting as a beneficiary of GEOBIS I had a little profit, but now I am getting a good profit every season,” Shirina said.
“I cultivated paddy on 75 decimals of land, brinjal on 15 decimals, bitter gourd on 50 decimals and bottle gourd on 10 decimals. I am getting Tk 15,000 profit every month,” she said, adding that she is now able to support her sick husband and two children.
Under her leadership, many women growers of her village are now receiving advice on cultivation of different crops and getting weather alert.
Shamima Begum, 38, of the village, said she started crop farming after seeing Shirina's success.
“Shirina first showed us the way of earning through crop farming, especially vegetables, and we are self reliant now,” another woman Morsheda Begum, 42, said.
“I am getting a good profit from selling vegetable seeds to Lal Teer Seed Ltd. I hope our children will bring a bright future for the family," Shirina said.