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Once ultra-poor Khodeza Begum of village Vati Kapasia under Sunderganj upazila now earns around Tk 3,000 a month by vegetable gardening and poultry rearing. “I am happy as homestead gardening has brought me solvency. I want my children to be educated. Thanks to local NGO Gano Unnayan Kendro, who provides me with adequate training on vegetable cultivation that has changed my fate from destitute, said Khodeza Begum. Donor agency Helen Keller International is assisting the homestead food production programme, being implemented by local NGO Gano Unnayan Kendro.
One thousand destitute families in Gaibandha shoal areas have been brought under this programme, said Programme Officer of the NGO.
Khodeza, now producing 25 varieties of vegetables on her 20 decimal plots, makes profit by selling vegetables in the local market after meeting family need.
Besides, she rears poultry and earns by selling eggs and chicken in addition to providing nutrition to her family members.
She bears all the family expenses including that for schooling of her two children as her husband Nazrul Islam, who worked as a farm labourer, is now too ill to do hard physical labour.
Many other once impoverished families in shoal areas along Teesta and Brahmaputra basin have changed their livelihood through homestead vegetable gardening.
Housewife Ambiya Khatun, who earlier became victim of river erosion, this year earned Tk 2,000 by selling green chilli that she cultivated on her four decimal homestead plot.
“We have a stock of 10 kg dried red chilli that will be sold at off-season period,” she said.
Landless housewife Shefali Begum said she cultivated vegetables on her only two decimal homestead plot, and earned Tk 1,000 by selling vegetables after meeting family need. Local NGO Gano Unnayan Kendro supplied seeds of vegetable and other inputs free of cost.
“We provided training on gardening, rearing poultry and women empowerment. As a result, rural women are gradually proceeding to self-reliance and getting nutritious food through a little labour,” said Harun-ur-Rashid, project officer of GUK.
There are 18 groups in Kapasia union and seven others in Sreepur union under Sundeganj upazila, each group comprising 40 destitute and landless families, he added.
In 2003, Helen Keller International started homestead food production programme in char lands of Gaibandha, Kurigram, Rangpur and Sirajganj districts.