|Summer tomato harvest - a success story in Tangail|
BARI-BARC project helps bringnew vegetable varieties home
Farmers in our country will now be able to cultivate tomatoes even in summer following the successful. harvest of some new varieties in Tangail district recently.
The local varieties of tomato are commonly grown in winter. The farmers of Sadar, Kalihati and Bhuapur thanas of Tangail district are growing the summer variety of tomato and earning profits by selling it in local markets. They are selling one kg tomato at Tk 20 to 25.
The successful harvest of these new varieties has been possible due to a project of Asian Vegetable Research Development Centre (AVRDC), a Taiwan-based international organisation, working on ensuring world's food security through research, development and training.
AVRDC began the project in the country in collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) in March 1999. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project is being implemented through a local NGO named Society for Social Service (SSS).
The project titled "Introduction and Development of Adaptive Technologies for Sustainable Year-round Vegetable Production and Consumption in Bangladesh" is now active in 49 thanas of 34, districts of the country. During a visit to some farm projects on Thursday, it was found that the local people and farmers are very enthusiastic about the summer variety. The cultivation is at present enough to only meet local needs but can easily fulfill countrywide demand if cultivated on commercial scales project sources said.
Abdur Razzak, who has cultivated two different varieties of summer tomato on his 20 decimal land in Kagmari village of Sadar thana is very pleased with the production. "So far I have sold 100 kg of tomato at the price Tk 20 to 30 for each kilo," the farmer said adding that he has spent Tk 1,500 per decimal of land.
"A farmer can earn Tk 3,500 net income by growing summer tomato on only one decimal of land," said Dr Mostak Ahmed of BARI who accompanied the journalists during the trip. "The maximum production of tomato per decimal land is about 125 kg."
The number of demonstration projects in the current summer season is 195. There are also three pilot projects.
BARI is conducting research works on different types of crops and transferring technologies to the farmers. It is also supplying seeds among the farmers free of cost and helping them to prepare their land for cropping the new varieties of vegetables, such as tomato, yard-long bean and okra.
Source said AVRDC is now willing to continue its collaborative activities for another five-year phase considering the significant achievement of the present project. But other sources said that the, project is likely to be closed next month as the major donor USAID is likely to withdraw its support.
The project has provided about 320 germplasm, of 54 different vegetable crops which enabled BARI to release 25 promising varieties of different vegetable crops including tomato, brinjal, radish, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, okra, garden pea, hyacinth bean, bush bean, red amaranth, coriander, onion and mungbean.
It also released two summer tomato varieties, three mungbean varieties with the technical assistance and, germplasm provided by the project.
To bring diversity to the vegetable market in Bangladesh, new types of crops have been introduced. These include long melon, musk melon, bell pepper, baby corn, bush bean, garden pea, broccoli, Indian spinach and mustard greens.
A project report said about 28171 on-farm demonstrations and 91,400 homesteads were laid out under the project through various NGOs and BARI research stations over the past one year. A major thrust on technology transfer was made in 1999 when about 7,292 on farm demonstrations of vegetable varieties and technologies were implemented in three separate seasons.
The report also said that some 68,700 vegetable farmers were benefited by the on-farm demonstrations and homestead activities in 45 thanas since the inception of the project.
"The poor and marginal farmers are most benefited from the year-round gardening and it also has helped improve their family nutrition through increased consumption of vegetables at rural households, as well as from additional income earned from sale of these vegetables," said Dr Mustak Ahmed.
He said, "The field, performance of the technologies under the vegetable demonstration by the farmers is inspiring others to use the technology."
Abdul Hamid Bhuiyan, Executive Director, of Society for Social Service (SSS) said "This benefits the farmers not only in increasing their income through commercial cultivation of high value vegetable crops round the year but also helps improve nutrition of the huge malnourished community."
He said farmers are becoming more confident and proficient with growing these varieties following the successful implementation of the project.
Charles Urhaus, office of Economic Growth, Food and Environment, USAID said he was very pleased to see the dissemination of commercially attractive technologies that have been developed through collaboration of BARC, BARI and USAID.
By Abul Kalam Azad