Jumbo Grass shows the way to Rangpur ultra-poor
RANGPUR, Apr 2 (BSS): Over 3,000 ultra poor families living in remote char villages on the Brahmaputra and Dharla basins in Kurigram have achieved economic self-reliance through commercial cultivation of Australian hybrid variety Sweet Jumbo Grass.
Farming of the grass under the ongoing government’s Char Livelihood Programme (CLP) has brought a revolution in the char economy during the past four years with brighter prospects in future, concerned experts and char people said.
The nutritious grass helps expanding the animal husbandry sector in char areas and the poor eradicating poverty by selling milk and increasing milk production by 45 per cent and meeting nutritional demand of their children.
Because of availability of the grass in huge quantities, the char people including women are fattening cows easily and incident of cattle deaths has been reduced to the minimum with reduction of fodder crisis.
The owners of bigger diary farms of Bogra and other areas in the north have been purchasing the nutritious grass at better rates to feed their cows and getting increased milk production.
According to official sources, 18 NGOs under the CLP have been assisting the distressed and ultra poor char people of 19 upazilas in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur and Sirajganj districts in farming the grass since 2008.
After getting excellent results, the NGOs have been bringing more people under its farming in newer areas every year and beneficiaries of the previous years are continuing its large-scale farming at their own lands.
Under the assistances of RDRS, Solidarity, Zibika, Mohideb Jubo Unnayan Samaj Kallyan Sangstha, Aid Comilla and Bangladesh Development Service Centre, over 3,000 char families have so far become self-reliant by farming the grass in Kurigram alone.
Marketing Development Supervisor of RDRS Moni Krishna Adhikari today told the news agency that farming of the grass has been expanding faster in the char areas of Rajibpur, Roumari and Chilmari upazilas and other five Upazilas in Kurigram.
The growers get eight harvests after every month from the same land from January to August, and can earn a net average profit of Tk 75,000 per acre annually excluding the production costs of Tk 20,000 and after feeding their own cows.
Over 3,500 char people have cultivated the grass in over 500 acres land in eight Upazilas of Kurigram to produce about 70,000 tonnes grass and they are now selling the produce at Tk 4 per kg as it has huge demands in the local and other areas.
Char people Shahjahan Ali, Faridul Islam, Abdul Baten, Mintu Mian and Saidur Rahman of different char villages in Kurigram said that they have been cultivating the grass on their char lands every year since 2008.
Wahed Ali of Kachir Char in Sadar Upazila of Kurigram said that he has cultivated the grass in one-acre land this time and earned Taka 36,000 so far by selling three harvests at Tk 4 per kg till March.
“I expect to sell more five harvests till August next to earn a net profit of Tk 75,000 excluding his total cultivation costs of Tk 20,000 from my one acre land this season,” he added.