Pumpkins Against Poverty

October 1st, 2015

Every year monsoon rains cause the three major rivers of Bangladesh, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna to swell, resulting in devastating floods. These wash away fertile land and destroy homes and pumpkins against povertylivelihoods.  Every year hundreds of families are forced to find a new place to live and a new means of earning a living without land to cultivate.

Sandbars emerge as the rivers recede, the soil is barren but can be made productive by using the technique of pit cultivation for pumpkins and other crops. Practical Action has been working with communities in the Rangpur area of Bangladesh to help landless families overcome seasonal hunger and increase their income.

UK-AID-Donations&flag-4CLast month I visited Rangpur and met a family that have built a better life through growing and selling pumpkins, a highly nutritious vegetable.  I found it hugely inspiring that such a simple idea could make such a big difference.

Today we’re launching our Pumpkins Against Poverty appeal to help even more families like Anwar’s. And the great news is that the UK government will match your donation, pound for pound, meaning if you donate between now and Christmas you will double your impact!

Pumpkins offer Anwar a way out of poverty

Anwar ul Islam, his wife Afroza and two children live in Rangpur District, an area afflicted by land erosion caused by heavy monsoon rains swelling the rivers from June to October. Anwar lost everything when floods swept away his house and land. He was earning less than £2 a day working as a cycle mechanic.

Pumpkins against povertyBut with the help of Practical Action, Anwar has found a way to feed his family, improve their health and earn a good income.

Once the rainy season ends and the monsoon waters drain away, large sandbars appear in the rivers. This land is common property but, prior to Practical Action’s intervention, had never been used productively. Working alongside communities who live on the river embankments, our teams have shown it’s possible to grow pumpkins in small pits dug into the sand filled with compost.

Last year Anwar produced 600 pumpkins. After selling 450, he had enough to feed his family as pumpkins can be stored for over a year. With the income he bought a cow and some chickens and can now afford to educate his children. They have a secure home and he is passing on his knowledge to others.


4 responses to “Pumpkins Against Poverty”

  1. Rakesh Says:

    If we could introduce a complete package of river bed farming technology in the area, it would be more helpful in terms of income generation and poverty alleviation.

  2. Amanda Ross Says:

    Yes, Rakesh, i think it would.

  3. S. M. Alauddin Says:

    Thanks Amanda! Its an excellent piece of work. You provided very simply the strong message how the barren sandbar can help the poor to come out of their poverty. The huge barren sandbar every year remain unused, while every year, Bangladesh is loosing 1% of its agricultural land. Barren transitional sandbar can substitute to the loss of agricultural land to some extent and can contribute to extreme poverty reduction. The Government of Bangladesh, INGOs and Donors should provide support to this noble effort of sandbar cropping for the millions of extreme poor.

  4. Amanda Ross Says:

    Totally agree! thanks…

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