River-eroded people need access to transitional char lands

River-eroded people need access to transitional char lands

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The river-eroded extremely poor families need easier access to the transitional char lands for continuing cultivation of pumpkin in the raised sandbars on the dried-up riverbeds to change their fortune.
With the assistance of different donor organisations and NGOs, the have-note group river-eroded people have made a revolution in cultivation of pumpkin on the sandy-barren char lands and silted-up riverbeds in recent years to lead better life.According to official estimate, the river eroded families have been producing thousands of tonnes of pumpkin annually on the transitional char lands of the Teesta, Brahmaputra, Dharla, Ghaghot, Kartoa, Jamuna and other rivers and supplying to the markets.As a result, the extremely poor people, mainly living on the flood control embankments and riversides areas, have been leading better life now side by side meeting vegetables demand of the whole population.With financial and technical assistance of Practical Action Bangladesh (PAB) alone, 14,357 river erosion victim families have changed fortune through extensive pumpkin cultivation on raised sandbars in five districts of greater Rangpur since 2009.All of these beneficiary families have been cultivating pumpkin on the sandy-barren char lands under the Pathways from Poverty (PFP) project being implemented with the assistance of PAB, a UK-based internationally reputed NGO.The officials of PAB in collaboration with local upazila and union administrations and public representatives have been negotiating with owners of the transitional char lands after floods every year for handing over those temporarily for pumpkin cultivation.But, a shadow of fear has now gripped the river-eroded families as the PFP project is going to expire from December next leaving them on solitary mercy of the transitional land owners as the land owners are not willing to continue the facility in future.Manager (Agriculture) of PAB Normal Chandra Bepari told BSS that 14,357 PFP project beneficiary households have achieved success in pumpkin cultivation on sandbars in 200 villages under 80 unions of 18 upazilas in greater Rangpur.Under the project, 7,595 families cultivated pumpkin on 2,842 acres of sandy barren char lands at 181 spots and produced 31,846 tonnes of the crop to earn Taka 24.09 crore during three years, period from 2009 to 2012 in the first phase.Besides, 5,262 households cultivated pumpkin on 1,912 acres of sandy barren char lands at 153 spots and produced 17.790 tonnes of the crop to earn Taka 15.22 crore during two years period from 2012 to 2014 in the second phase.Another 1,500 beneficiary households have cultivated pumpkin on sandbars in 345 acres of land in Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Nilphamari districts this season as implementation of the project ends by December next, he said.Beneficiaries of PFP project Mahbub Alam, Kochhim Uddin, Kobiza Begum and Morsheda Begum of village Paschim Mohipur under Gangachara upazila in Rangpur narrated as how they have changed fortune through pumpkin cultivation.“Like in the previous years, each of us has cultivated pumpkin on 200 sandbars raised on the silted-up beds of the river Teesta in village Paschim Mohipur with assistance of PAB under the PFP project this season,” they said. They have spent Taka 13,000 on an average each for cultivating pumpkin on 200 sandbars to sell the produce at Taka 30,000 to earn net profit of Taka 17,000 by each of them after completing harvest by this month end.
Similarly, Abdul Aziz of char village Dakshin Khoribari in Nilphamari,Farman Ali of village Khuniagachh in Lalmonirhat, Nur Islam of village Korpura in Kurigram, Manju Rani of village Gidari in Gaibandha have also driven away abject poverty by cultivating pumpkin.“Cultivation of pumpkin might be hampered making our livelihoods uncertain after expiry of the project as there would be no negotiator or effective process then to convince the transitional char land owners for handing over the lands to us,” they feared.Manager (Operations) of PAB at its Regional Office Abdul Manna Molla said the project beneficiary extremely poor families have already achieved tremendous success through pumpkin cultivation on the raised sandbars to lead better life.He put importance on working out an effective process by the local administrations for ensuring access of the river eroded families to the transitional char lands for continuation of pumpkin cultivation by them even after expiry of the project. -BSS, Rangpur

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