Digital Bangladesh: Farmers reaping benefits in Rajshahi
By Dr Aynal Haque
RAJSHAHI, – Many farmers have changed their fortunes after best uses of modern information and communication technologies as well as the benefits of digital Bangladesh in the region including its vast Barind tract.
With this breakthrough, the number of entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector is seen increasing gradually bringing a new dimension to the region’s agro-based economy.
Two young friends, Sarwar Rashid and Nurullah Sadekin Sourav, have found the path of recouping their losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic through investment in high-valued fruits and crops farming in Rajshahi.
After passing engineering, they became involved in an IT business in Dhaka and continued it for many years successfully but incurred financial loss by the pandemic in mid of 2020. In order to recoup the losses, both of the friends took lease 12 bighas of land and launched digital farming in Iswaripur area under Godagari upazila of the district.
“We’ve added modern mechanization and digitalization to the agriculture for getting more outputs and profits after utilizing our IT knowledge and experiences,” said Sarwar Rashid while illustrating their business plan.
He said they are taking suggestion and guidelines from Upazila Agriculture Officer Sharifqul Islam and Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker on how to make the farming more profitable.
“We’ve already got success in generating and selling of graft-seedlings of watermelon,” Sarwar Rashid said, adding that they are also supplying seedlings of summer watermelon, cauliflower and cabbage among the farmers.
They are planning to introduce farming of summer tomato and summer onion besides packaging and processing business of agriculture products within the shortest possible time.
To expand their agriculture business, they have already taken lease of another 15 bighas of land.
Sub-Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker told BSS that the joint venture has already attained success in online marketing of the products.
He said Sarwar Rashid and Sadekin Sourav among many others who have founded themselves as successful entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector of the region.
Ahad Ali, 45, who was one of the marginalized farmers at Ishwaripur village under Godagari upazila, has now become a successful agriculture entrepreneur with guava orchard on three bighas of land coupled with various seasonal crops and vegetables.
“I’ve attained success first in tomato farming on two bighas of land in 2017 that brought profit of Taka one lakh to me in the initial year,” he said while talking to BSS depicting his success.
After attaining a significant success in strawberry farming on three bighas of land in 2015, Moniruzzaman Monir has been operating dragon farming on four bighas of land and guava farming on six bighas of land at Choitannapur village under the upazila for the last couple of years successfully.
Vegetable farming has brought success to the living and livelihood condition of Adari Mardi, 35, a farmer of Nimghutu village.
“Now, we are very happy with our money-making activities,” Aduri said appreciating the government for flourishing the ICT sectors as many of the grassroots people including farmers who are deriving total benefits of those in various livelihood and productive purposes.
Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Sirajul Islam said using of ICT is being adjudged as a proven means of boosting yield to feed the gradually rising population.
Substantial and sustainable uses of modern technologies are the precondition to make the country self-reliant in food through facing all the existing challenges, including the adverse impact of climate change and Covid-19 pandemic.
Agriculturist Islam said the DAE under its National Agricultural Technology Program has been operating Farmer’s Information and Advice Centre (FIAC) in various Union Parishad complexes aimed at providing modern agriculture information and messages to the grassroots farmers.
Around 12 types of services, including some emergency ones, are being provided to the grassroot farmers for their benefits. Counseling to farmers in hard-to-reach areas over phone and WhatsApp has become crucial amid the Covid-19 challenges.
“We’re using phone, email and BanglaSMS, for sending the messages to the target group people,” Agriculturist Islam said.
Web-based technologies like whatsapp, facebook messenger, zoom and skype are also being used for the purpose, he added.