:: Ohidur Rahman from Netrakona (Translated by Silvanus Lamin) ::
A hospital for agriculture crops
There are hospitals for humans and even for livestock everywhere in the world but a hospital for crops? Have you ever seen or heard a hospital for crops initiated by farmers? If you don’t, you can visit Sarmushia union of Atpara sub-district under Netrakona where such innovative hospital has been set up by the farmers. The members of Bahgra farmers’ organization set up this hospital near the Netrakona-Madan Highway. Every day farmers from different village visit the hospital to find out solutions of their agriculture problems as well as to know the technique on how they could to caste away harmful pastes. The experienced farmers hearing the problems advised the affected farmers to get their problems solved.
Not only a single experienced and skilled farmer sits in the hospital but also different experienced and skilled farmers on different issues sit there and discuss on the certain problems and solution of the problems. On 30th of every month, farmers from different villages come to the hospital along with the problem affected crops trees with the objective to get the solutions. The experienced farmers having discussed with each other and learning the experiences of other farmers who solved the same problems, suggested the problem affected farmers to follow the tips on how other farmers get their problems solved. In the meantime, during the meeting farmers also discuss on different aspects of agriculture, hear the different problems faced by different farmers and test the affected crops’ trees and find out the way to solve the problems together. There are images of benevolent and harmful pests, insects, written symptoms of different diseases and its solutions and different information about crops and agriculture in the hospital. The experienced farmers practically teach the problem affected farmers how they could recognize pests, castes them away and how they could make organic manure and pesticides. Thus farmers learn ranges of things and get their problems solved coming to the hospital. Besides, the mutual and working relationship among the farmers also revived once again due to courtesy of this crops hospital!
It’s an information and agro material exchange center
It’s not only a hospital but an information and exchange center for the farmers. There are information about sustainable agriculture, seeds, seedlings, fertilizers and different government facilities in this hospital. Farmers also have the scope coming to the hospital to revive their exchanging culture of seeds and materials with each other. They also get inspiration to observe different days and organize different agriculture related cultural event and festivals being advised. Thus they being organized have the courage to implement different activities (Press conference, meeting, rallies) to establish their rights, get fair price of goods and information on agriculture being guided by the experienced and organized farmers! The experienced farmers on sustainable agriculture also share their experience to the farmers who are interested to practice sustainable agriculture abandoning the energy intensive agriculture. Thus the hospital serves as learning and exchange center for farmers as farmers get information, materials including advice from the experienced farmers to solve their problems and produce crops properly. This exchange and sharing also boosts the relationship of the farmers with each other.
How this hospital gets established
The members of Bahgra farmers’ organization have solved their seed crisis through conducting action research on varietals selection in 2008. The action research enabled them to get 37 types of local seeds crops for production compared to only 4 or 5 type seeds in the previous times. The farmers farmed less water intensive crops such as wheat, pules, spices and vegetable to cope with the water crisis situation. But they learn that in spite of the success in coping with the climatic situation and easy availability of seeds, some farmers face difficulties to control pests in their fields. They think how they could solve the problems? Then they learn that some farmers in the areas have been successful in controlling pests using organic pesticides. Thus the president and members of the farmers’ organization thinks that they can establish hospital of crops where farmers who are experts and experienced in different field sit there and advice the farmers to get their problem solved. They experienced farmers also could advice others on how they could practice sustainable agriculture sharing their success to inspire them. The president said, “We decide to establish a treatment center for crops where farmers will be advised by farmers on how they could get solution of their problems and fix the attack of pests. Thus based on our discussion and with the consent of all members of the organization, we established this treatment center which we named agricultural crops’ hospital”.