Feroza’s Farm Boosts Nutrition
In the Faridpur district of Bangladesh, the small village of Kafura is bustling with agricultural activity. Feroza Begum lives there with her family of five.Begum’s husband Zafar Molla has epilepsy, which limits his activities and requires constant care. Her family earns income by growing food on leased homestead land and selling it to neighbors.
The homestead farm, the small plot of land next to Begum’s house, is dedicated to feeding her family. With the goal of self-sufficiency, homestead farms require commitment and dedication that is different from a backyard garden. For Begum, the homestead is her family’s main source of nutritious food and provides steady income for rural families like hers.
Feed the Future, through USAID’s Bangladesh Nutrition Activity, is working with Konika Seed Company, a major seed supplier in southern Bangladesh, to connect homestead farmers with the quality ingredients they need to grow nutritious crops and optimize their current agricultural practices. Ultimately, this work will enable them to produce a variety of foods full of essential vitamins and minerals. To date, the Bangladesh Nutrition Activity has reached more than 20,000 households.
After receiving and planting a variety of seeds through the Activity, Begum’s family is eating nutritious food from their homestead, significantly improving their well-being. Begum is also selling green, leafy vegetables and investing the profits in a food vendor business. She wants to offer nutritious food to her community.
“Now I know how to prepare a homestead farm and I will continue it as long as possible,” Begum said.
Planting Seeds of Success
Since early 2021, the project conducted field demonstrations, community meetings and agricultural advisory sessions in the Faridpur district. These sessions advised local communities on good farming practices such as fencing, preparing seedbeds and planting new seeds. Women like Begum, who attended these sessions, learned how to grow more nutritious foods on their homestead farms and took off with the entrepreneurial spirit.
Demonstration plots and community meetings helped rural families like Begum’s understand the nutritional benefits of vegetables. In February, Konika Seed Company established a demonstration plot of vegetables on Begum’s land. She has since cultivated red amaranth, amaranth, Indian spinach and kangkong (kolmi), a local type of water spinach, as well as bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber and sweet gourd.
“I have learned many things about proper vegetable farming through the demonstration program of Konika Seed company. It has helped me ensure nutrition for my family, especially my grandchild,” Begum said.
“Since February 2021, I have harvested vegetables five times, eaten them and sold the surplus after distributing them to some of my neighbors,” Begum explained. She has more than doubled her income which she describes as “a great support to run my family.”
To date, Konika Seed Company has established 256 demonstration plots and trained more than 30,000 people in the rural Faridpur district on best practices for homestead farming. Many of the farmers who participated in the project shared they were able to replicate what they learned on their own farms.
With the profits she made from selling her produce, Begum purchased and now runs a food shop. The added income has made a big difference for her family nutritionally and economically.
“I am very grateful to Konika Seed Company as well as the Bangladesh Nutrition Activity project for supporting me to overcome my family difficulties,” Begum said.
This story was originally published in conjunction with our October 2021 newsletter focusing on the theme of improving nutrition. The other stories we highlighted include:
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