FAO and the Government of Japan have provided emergency assistance to highly vulnerable Haor wetland communities in Bangladesh affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The support will contribute to the wider food security of the country by boosting agricultural productivity while safeguarding the health of key agricultural workers against infection from COVID-19. The two Haor districts targeted are the least developed in Bangladesh. A total of 284 agricultural machines were distributed to 200 farmer cooperatives.
Hamida Akter’s farmer cooperative received a power tiller and power thresher, both of which will be shared with another farmer co-operative, directly benefiting 20 farmers in the two co-ops. Even more farmers will benefit from increased productivity because the co-ops will rent the machines to other farmers.
“We will use it together with 20 people. We will get a driver and a guardian and then cultivate our land as well as others’ land with cooperation,” Hamida said. “The president, the cashier and secretary of the group will regulate it and do the calculation. The expense for kerosene for the machine will be paid for from the money we receive from cultivating other farmers’ land. If we use it mutually, it is profitable for all of us. It is good support.”
Hamida has three sons and two daughters. She works as secretary of the Sabuj Magan co-op in Netrokona. Without their own machines, they would have to rent them.
“Before we used to cultivate our land by plough and cow. These days, however, there is no cow and plough. Now we need to spend money to borrow machines.”
She explained that the tiller and thresher will greatly reduce their cultivation costs. For cultivating 35 katha of land (one katha is equivalent to 67 m2) would have cost Hamida BDT 7 000 (USD 83), but now it will cost only BDT 1 000 (USD 12) to pay for the fuel and oil. “Now if I spend 1 000 taka for oil and fuel, I will be able to cultivate my 35 katha land. I will save 6 000 taka (USD 72). Isn’t that beneficial for me? It is, and I want to give you thanks. We are happy to receive it and others too.”
Her co-op plans to establish a ‘bank’ or fund and then reinvest the money. “We will make this small bank so that we can improve and do another thing from it. We once saved a handful rice and sold it for 10 taka. Then we saved 1 000 taka and from that now we saved 10 000 taka (USD 120). We want this kind of management.”