PUMPKINS AGAINST POVERTY

New skills mean that 50,000 people in Bangladesh, who have no land of their own, can grow up to 600 pumpkins a year. With the extra income they earn, they can send their children to school, buy livestock and become more resilient to the monsoon climate.

Active Project

The Challenge

In Bangladesh, 160 million people still live on less than £1 a day.

  • Every year, monsoon rains cause the three major rivers of Bangladesh to swell, resulting in devastating floods.
  • The floods wash away homes, submerge land and destroy possessions.
  • Families face months of hunger and malnutrition when they 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, but the ‘char’ – the silted sand plains that the floods leave behind – are too infertile for even the most skilled farmer to tend.

“My family are healthy now. Before, they used to suffer with fever and diarrhoea. This year, I produced 600 pumpkins. I bought a cow from my income and sell milk at the market. I can now afford a tutor for my children.”

Anwar Ul Islam – Farmer, Rangpur

The Ingenious Solution

We’ve introduced a technique called sandbar cropping that allows pumpkins to be grown on the sandy, barren soil left behind when flood waters recede.

  • By digging holes in sandy residues left by the flooding and filling them with manure, compost and pumpkin seeds, crops can thrive.
  • As well as giving a high yield and being packed full of health benefits, pumpkins can be stored for up to a year, meaning people have a crop both for their families and also to sell.
  • We’re supporting farmers to gain tenure of temporary sand bars and create better markets for them to sell their pumpkins.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture in Bangladesh want to replicate this model throughout the country, helping alleviate poverty through tens of thousands more people overcoming hunger and increasing their income.

“I never believed that pumpkins can be grown in sandy lands. We made the impossible a possible one. With your help, I worked hard and harvested 530 pumpkins. I bought a sewing machine by selling them. With the sewing machine I am making a regular income. I have also stored some pumpkins for rainy season. I am now saving money to mortgage some land.”

Rekha Begum – Farmer, Chilmari

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