College lecturer Khabir Uddin, who teaches at the Shailakupa Women's College in Jhenidah has a hidden talent: he is also a capable farmer. Recently, inspired by the upazila's sub-assistant agriculture officer Tuhin Hossain, Khabir has started growing seedlings on the rooftop of the five-storey apartment building where he lives, an enterprise that has attracted the interest of local farmers.
“I have sown twelve kilograms of paddy in 120 trays that occupy about 700 square feet of the rooftop,” Khabir explains. “I have 12 bighas of land where I plan to grow this crop when the seedlings are ready. Having a rooftop garden is very convenient. The seedlings are easy to look after; even a stay-at-home housewife could do it. They only need to be watered thrice daily.”
“As the seedlings can be easily uprooted,” he adds, “They can be planted in the field by machine and within only two days they will have settled and grow normally there.”
“Rooftop seedling production is inexpensive,” says Tuhin Hossain. “It's a method by which farmers can achieve bumper production more easily. Equally, seedlings can be grown on trays in a yard.”
Shailakupa Upazila Agriculture Extension Officer Sanjoy Kumar Kundo advises that trays for seedbeds are ideally prepared with half an inch of soil along with compost fertiliser. “Within twenty days the seedlings should be around four inches long and ready for transplanting,” he says.