Oxfam: I am Zahera Begum (45), I walked a long way to perceive the experience I’m renowned for. A farmer named Abdul Majid, from the Garuhara village says about me that, “I have taken the seeds of gourd in the running season from Zahera and I have got very good results rather than previous years. Without good seeds my production of gourd wouldn’t have been so good so far”. My techniques of seed preservation is regarded as a model in my locality. Seeing my success, nine families of this village have started preserving and selling seeds.
Doing so they are getting profit and other farmers are getting better quality seeds as well. I live in the Garuhara village of the Jatrapur Union (which was affected by the erosion of the embankment of the Bharmaputra river) of Kurigram district. The area of my homestead is 16 decimal. I’m a marginal farmer and I have no personal cultivable land, so I work as a sharecropper in the 96 decimal land. My family consists of 5 members. I am always motivated by my thought that I must provide food to my family. I always seek about the food security of my family using my abilities.
I used to do agricultural works from the perspectives of my own knowledge. No one has advised me in agricultural works as well as I had to face so many criticisms because of being a woman farmer. As I had no agricultural training, so I didn’t know how to preserve seeds, so I had to face problems in cultivating crops in different seasons. I had to go market to buy seeds, but those seeds were not so good in quality. I asked for help to my neighboring farmers but no one helped me as because I’m a woman farmer.
In this situation I came to know about the Preservation of Seeds with indigenous techniques from Farmer Access to Agricultural Services Campaign (held on 24/08/2013, under the Government Food Security Project). From that moment, I didn’t stop. As a member of LFS, I received training from the Agriculture Officers regarding the ‘Preservation of Seeds in Home with Applying Indigenous Techniques’. Side by side I came to know about the types and qualities of agricultural services.
I have been elected as a member of the effective committee of Garuhara Gono Songothon and I’m also a member of the Farmer Field School (FFS) of Garuhara Jatrapur which is under the Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project of Bangladesh Government. Garuhara Gono Songothon is under the Government Food Security Project, which consists 160 members (Female farmer: 144; Male farmer: 16). This organization is created for giving farmers access to agricultural services and wealth, as well as for providing social solidarity, equality and food security.
Before the creation of this organization the farmers of this village didn’t know, from where they can get what services? As they were suffering from so many problems regarding: types of services, non-accessibility to agricultural services, social inequality, and food insecurity. This organization represents many problems of the farmers of this village.
In the year 2013, I’ve utilized all my training knowledge and experience to preserve seeds of rice, peas, gourd, and different types of beans. I managed to gain the attention of people. Those who collected the seeds from me, have got very good results. For this reason I got popularity and the demands of my seeds growing day by day.
Before the current winter season, I used BDT 1000/- capital, of my own and preserved seeds of rice, mustard, gourd, bean and peas with the objective of marketing. I earned BDT 5000/-, by selling my preserved seeds, and by using previous popularity. This scenario is applicable for every season now. I now play important role to provide nutritious food to my family.
Seeds available in the market are not so good in quality that’s why the farmers didn’t get good production. But now I’m preserving seeds with appropriate techniques to increase food production in the locality which is contributing to the food security ultimately.
“Good seeds-Good production”- there is no other alternative of the good quality seeds for increased crop production- and I think I’ve proved it. People welcome me for the initiative. If all the marginal women farmers of Bangladesh preserve seeds then we can hope to have increased crop production which will be helpful to fulfill the food needs of the people of Bangladesh in future.