Rajshahi farmers profit from plastic crates
Farmers in Chapainawa-bganj earned an additional Tk 15 lakh last fiscal year simply by changing their product packing system.
Farmers now use plastic crates instead of traditional straw-cushioned bamboo baskets covered with jute sacks. The plastic crates help farmers cut losses.
In fiscal 2007-08, the growers packed around 205 tonnes of fruits for sale. But they had to throw away around 10 tonnes, as those were rotten due to the poor traditional packing system, said an official of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The crates were provided by USAID under its project Poverty Reduction by Increasing the Competitiveness of Enterprises.
But the farmers were able to sell all of their 250 tonnes of fruits in fiscal 2008-09 thanks to plastic crates, the official added.
In each plastic crate, 25 kilogram of mangoes can be packed.
The traditional baskets are costlier than the new ones but not suitable for sending the fruits to a distant place in large quantities, said a farmer in Kansat.
"We funded the horticulture, aquaculture and leather sectors in Bangladesh," said Mark Visocky, deputy director of USAID's Economic Growth Office.
USAID has moved to train farmers. "This year, we will train around 100 mango growers in Kansat in how to farm with minimum chemicals."
USAID trained 30 farmers at Khamar Pathuria in Natore who have already begun growing vegetables like eggplant using compost and organic fertilisers, said Jules Lampell, chief of party of the project.
The project helps farmers bring the cost of chemicals from Tk 40,000 to Tk 4,000 per hectare through proper use of natural pesticides, Lampell said.
The project aimed at generating jobs for around 30,000 people in its five-year term. “These jobs did not exist before we started the project," said Mark Visocky.