Agriculture, Farmers and Nutrition Bank
For most, agriculture is a means of food security, but it is a livelihood for a vast population in Bangladesh and a means of reducing poverty (accounting for 90% of reduction in poverty between 2005 and 2010). However, agriculture continues to play a critical role in the country and the world, with the promotion of sustainable agriculture which also ensures safe foods to all life forms. Sustainable agriculture emphasizes on producing crops using non-toxic materials and environment friendly methods. However, the agriculture sector can be broken down into four main components: crops, livestock, fisheries, and forests.
Agriculture sector could ensure nutrition demand and food security of us all if sustainable way of crop production is adopted. In this regard, farming different types of crops and grains adopting environment friendly way, in every inch of available lands is required. Bangladesh government has emphasized on making the proper use of lands by cultivating and farms diverse crops and grains to counter the Covid-19 situation that could pose food shortage to the people. It has been seen in the working areas of BARCIK as well as in other areas in Bangladesh that farmers have been using their lands properly farming diversified varieties of crops leaving no lands fallow and uncultivated!. It has been feared that food shortage might appear and people might be starving. But the advice and strong leadership of the government ensured that Bangladeshi people are not starving. They have so far not experienced such food shortage and thanks be to the farmers (Both men and women) in rural areas who have been working hard to feed the whole nation in spite of the pandemic. The farmers in the rural areas have not only worked hard to feed us all but also have ensured that we consume safe and nutritious foods. BARCIK over the years, and particularly during the pandemic situation, has been motivating and inspiring the farmers in its working areas to produce safe foods and grain by adopting sustainable agriculture that does not require chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides. The organization also encourages the farmers to make proper use of their lands, homesteads and other fallow lands by farming diverse crops, grains, vegetables and fruits.
What has BARCIK so far done to assist, facilitate and motivate the farmers? The organization has selected households and individual farmers who have been practicing sustainable agriculture by farming different crops and grains, rearing livestock and farming fishes in their ponds. So far, the organization has succeeded in selecting 400 houses in its 4 working areas. Analyzing their needs as well as observing their constraints in practicing sustainable agriculture the organization provided them seeds (local varieties which after farming farmers can conserve and will not need to buy seeds from the markets and this ultimately reduces their seed dependence on others or market), nets (to protect their vegetable gardens from livestock) and other materials required for successfully producing foods maximizing their lands. BARCIK also provided technical supports such as technique to prepare organic fertilizers (worm compost, green fertilizers etc.) and pesticides (Making from different herbs, plants) to the farmers so that they could maintain the environment friendly farming method. BARCIK thinks, increasing usage of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and dumping of industrial waste also acts to weaken the sustainability of agriculture as runoff from fields seep into rivers, transporting contaminated waters throughout the country which pose threat to human health and other life-forms.
The organization is also encouraging and motivating the farmers to make proper use of their lands that resulted in their vegetable cultivation in their homestead and plantation of fruit trees in their fallow lands. The idea to make those 400 households as grounds of safe food and centers of all agriculture and food producing related activities is to empower those farmers who are involved in the process as well as to provide nutritious foods to their family members and neighboring people. BARCIK believes, nutritious foods will help the communities to counter the Covid-19 situation as consuming nutritious foods will increase their health immunity. Production of diverse crops, rearing livestock and farming fishes in a sustainable way will surely meet the nutrition demands of the communities and their family members. On the other hand, BARCIK wants to facilitate farmers making their own house as ‘safest store’ of nutritious foods which the organization dubs ‘Nutrition Bank’. All edible food plants such as vegetable, spinaches, leafy vegetable, uncultivated food plants, fruits and meats & milk (livestock) and fish will be available in this Nutrition Bank.
However, when farmers or households produce all sorts of food in an environment friendly method required for their survival and become economically solvent they easily attract the attention of others. People from different villages and walks come to them for suggestions and advices which ultimately increases their confidence as well as makes them feel that they are important. This way, the farmers could sense the empowerment process that touches their life! Generally, it has been seen in rural life that successful and powerful farmers or individuals stay in the steering seat of all types of social and economic activities. They become example for others. Motivating, facilitating and encouraging farmers in its working areas to produce safe and diverse foods by maximizing every inch of their lands BARCIK hopes that these farmers’ houses will emerge as ‘Nutrition Banks’ where nutritious and safe foods will be available for the year round. Consuming the nutritious foods will energize and increase their health immunity. In the meantime, these houses will be the centers of all sorts of social, cultural and economic activities of the area which ultimately will empower the farmers.