Under the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Agriculture Extension Department has initiated ‘Family Nutrition Garden’ programme to boost nutrition intake and also enable families to gain some financial benefits by selling additional vegetables, fruits and spices.
Like in other districts, the local agriculture department in Moniko cluster village in Tetulia in Panchagarh district has also started the programme about one and a half month ago where low-income families are getting free of cost seeds of vegetable, fruits and spices to be grown in their backyard.
Under the guidance of experts the families are cultivating the seeds in their backyards so that they no longer have to depend on for money to buy these food. Usually the experts of the department form groups of people who are given hands-on training on a piece of land where they show how to sow the seeds and take care of the plants.
Such initiative has already got huge popularity and as many families are demanding learning the process of planting seeds and get the benefits. “We have got tremendous response on the programme. Those who already grew vegetable and fruits told their neighbours about the welfare programme,” said a local agriculture department officer.
Meanwhile, more and more families are showing interests in using their fallow lands in their backyards to plant the seeds and grow fresh food. Such initiative not only benefits the families but vegetable and fruit traders are also taking advantage of buying the fresh food from the families.
Sources said that some five lakh vegetable gardens are being set up across the country under a nationwide family nutrition garden project. The three-year project will spend Tk 438 crore to set up vegetable gardens in every upazila of the country.
It has been found that there are 43 families living in the Maniko cluster village shelter project in the Buraburi Union. Nutrition gardens have been set up in 3 households, and 5-10 more families are preparing to form gardens in their backyards.
The local Agriculture Expansion Department informs that every family has received vegetable seeds, fertilizers, fruit saplings, containers for seed-preservation and watering equipment free of cost.
Some beneficiaries gave their comments when this correspondent asked them about the benefits of the programme and why it is gaining popularity.
Labli Begum, Director of the Buraburi Union Co-operative Association said, “I have formed vegetable gardens in the empty space around my home taking the advice of Deputy Assistant Agricultural Officer Mozammel. After fulfilling my family’s requirements, I am giving away vegetables to our neighbors. I am also earning extra money by selling the food in the markets. I am making 80 percent profits with these.”
Kamrul Haque and Rahima Khatun, residents of the Maniko cluster village shelter project say that they cultivated vegetables in their household backyard with the help of the local agricultural officers. There is high demand in the markets for their chemical-free vegetables. Many people around the cluster village also come to buy their vegetables as well.
The farmers of the Upazila’s Buraburi Union are being constantly assisted in forming nutrition gardens. The farmers are able to fulfill their nutritional needs and earn money by selling vegetables in the markets.
An agriculture officer says, “It feels good to be able to form family nutrition gardens in the Moniko cluster village shelter programme, a gift from the Prime Minister. A lot of time is being invested on these farmers. I am hoping that eventually nutrition gardens will be formed in every family’s backyard.”