A young farmer from Lalmonirhat decided to do things differently. Where the bulk of vegetables sold in the capital city are chemical-laden which is not at all conducive to health, Atul Chandra Roy introduced organic fertilisers and pesticides on his farm, which has been emulated by other farmers in his village. Given that his produce has met with marketing success, some 100 odd farmers in the area have decided to forgo the use of harmful chemical agents altogether. The commonly held notion amongst most farmers is that unless chemicals are used in abundance, vegetables will not grow to optimal size and shape. What has been lacking is the sharing of knowledge that public health suffers when such agro-products hit the human digestive system.
It is interesting to observe that most vegetables now grown in Dakhkhinpara village where Atul hails from have stopped using chemical agents on their fields for the last five years. But that has not stopped these farmers from making a profit. A growing awareness, especially among urban residents about health hazards has provided the boon needed for such farmers to produce agro-products that sell at a premium price.
In the absence of adequate monitoring and supervision by agriculture officials, the chemical companies woo farmers into applying toxic chemicals that include banned pesticides to vegetables. Indeed a recent study by Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC) has found that farmers apply pesticides up to 8-10 times the recommended level. The only way out of this situation is to improve preservation technologies, packaging materials and proper transportation for perishable commodities.