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Sandbar cropping can enhance food production: Experts

Monday 07 December, 2015 12:00:00 am

Sandbar cropping can enhance food production: Experts

Dhaka, Dec 7 (UNB) - Agricultural experts at a workshop here on Monday called for scaling up sandbar cropping across the country for enhancing food production and eradicating poverty.


The sandbar cropping, if done through a national policy, will contribute to national production, they said while addressing the workshop titled ‘Dissemination of pumpkin cultivation technology on sandbar’ at Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in the capital.


They stressed GO-NGOs collaboration for successful expansion of sandbar cropping across the country.


DAE and Practical Action (PA), a UK-based international development agency, jointly organised the programme.  


Director General of DAE Hamidur Rahman spoke as the chief guest at the programme held with Country Director of PA Bangladesh Hasin Jahan in the chair.


“Our arable land is reducing while our population is increasing. It is urgently needed to expand the sandbar cropping across the country to meet the increasing food demand,” the DAE DG said stressing devising out ways so that the cultivators get real prices of their products.


In her presentation, Hasin Jahan said arable land is decreasing at the rate 1% per annum. Some 1.8 lakh hectares of barren land--from Teesta Barrage to Jamuna Bridge—could be transformed into productive land. More than 700 rivers get dried up for half of the year.


“Around 18-20 million extreme poor are in Bangladesh. About 7-10 percent of them live on embankments and chars. More than 40 percent people in Bangladesh are less than age of 18. Unfortunately, young generation is losing interest in agriculture,” she said.


The PA Country Director said the young generation could be capacitated as trained workforce in agricultural production and innovative agro-enterprises.


The function was told that the sandbars that emerge each year as the rivers recede are not suitable enough to support natural vegetative growth and remain as barren sand until the rivers rise again.


These sandbars can be made productive by growing pumpkins and other crops using the pit cultivation approach (by digging small pits and lining the pits with compost).


Accessing the sandbars for cropping can help landless families diversify their incomes, help them overcome seasonal food shortages and facilitate a process of asset building alongside reducing the risks, which threaten their livelihood.     


PA, under a project, involved extreme poor people in sandbar cropping in Rangpur and Kurigram, and found the initiative success in food production as well as ending poverty.  


A working group comprising high officials of DAE and PA was formed at the workshop to work out a plan on how to scale up the sandbar cropping jointly across the country.


The committee will submit its report by December 30.