Turning compost into food
When your farmland is turned to sand, how do you survive?
Floods don't just destroy homes, villages and lives when they arrive - they also leave a crippling legacy when the waters subside. The ‘char’ – the silted sand plains that the floods leave behind – are too infertile for even the most skilled farmer to tend. Left with no food stored for the future, no food to sell at the local market and no food even to feed their families, people once had no option but to pray that food aid would arrive at their village in time.
Rather than ‘writing off’ the land, Practical Action have been working with farmers to develop a simple and effective solution. Holes. Thousands and thousands of holes. Each no more than a metre across, dug into the sand bars, then filled with compost. Into these, farmers are able to plant seeds; from which can grow crops that the families can eat, store, even sell to make money. They can then put this money towards medicine, clothes, livestock or schooling for their children.
This report on our countering flood and river erosion impacts in Bangladesh was shown on German television channel DW-TV in June 2011.
This film won the Silver Award at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards 2011 in the Environment & Ecology category.
Mohammed Mohazar Ali from Gaibandha in Bangladesh, was only able to earn enough to give his family of 17 one meal a day. Then we showed him how to grow pumpkins in pits on the silt island next to his village.
Three years ago we trained Mohammed and gave him some pumpkin seeds. Initially he cultivated 50 pits, he then reinvested his income and now has 1.21 hectares under cultivation. He has also bought two cows. Mohammed is able to grow about 20-25 pumpkins per pit and each one weights 20-25Kg. He now earns TK55,000 a year (£550) and is able to provide his family with three meals a day. Life is much better for him although he's always concerned about the weather.
This is a simple idea that transforms lives. Pumpkins are a perfect crop because they are extremely nutritious, last for up to a year and fetch good money at market. Help us give people the ability to turn their own future into one that doesn’t include hunger and desperate poverty. If you’re able to, please make a gift to Practical Action.
This brief describes a way of growing crops on the sandbars, created by river deposits in Bangladesh, can be done to increase crop production for marginalised famers.