The COVID-19 crisis has crippled entire systems, including the RMG and agriculture sectors. It appears that food safety will be a major challenge in the country, after the pandemic. In order to overcome this challenge, Alok Chandra Das, founder of Anushilon Mojar School, has taken an initiative to distribute free vegetable seeds and pesticides among the marginal farmers in his area, under the project, Courtyard Agriculture.
Earlier in April, they started a distribution programme under the slogan of "If agriculture survives, the country will survive." More than 130 farmers and young gardeners in three unions of Rupsha received vegetable seeds and pesticides from them as of now, according to Das. He added that the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Rupsha also joined the initiative. With an aim to provide basic education to underprivileged kids, Anushilon Mojar School, a volunteer organisation, started the journey in 2017. The initiative for the school was taken by the young man.
Once a child labourer himself, Das understood the importance of education and worked hard to attain his Bachelor's and Master's in Economics from Government Sundarban Adarsha College and Khulna Government BL College, respectively.
Courtyard Agriculture is a charitable initiative, running with financial assistance from some local youth organisations, the governing body of Anushilon Mojar School and Upazila Nirbahi office. To continue providing support for the farmer families in Khulna in this crisis, they regularly run campaigns on social media to raise funds.
Their volunteers are reaching out to the farmers with seeds of various types of vegetables, like squash, beans, eggplant, red spinach and cucumber. The volunteers wear personal protective equipment and maintain social distancing rules, while distributing the items.
Hridoy Bardhan, a resident of Shakharipara village in TSB union, said that since the first day of the shutdown, he, like other farmers in his area, were jobless and could not buy seeds and pesticides.
Das and his team helped these farmers with seeds of gourd and cucumber and pesticides. In addition, the farmers receive agricultural guidance from Anushilon Mojar School volunteers over the phone if they face any problem.
Rupsha Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nasrin Akter said that as no one knows how long the current situation will persist, they are encouraging everyone to cultivate vegetables in their lands and courtyards to tackle the possible food crisis.