After the rainy season ends each year in Bangladesh, large barren sandy islands appear in the main rivers. These sandbars usually disappear after five months and thus cannot be cultivated year-round. However, during the dry season these lands can be used by extremely poor farmers to grow high-nutrition crops.
Practical Action’s sandbar cropping technique enables landless families in Bangladesh to diversify their incomes by growing pumpkins and other crops on previously barren land. Farmers can overcome seasonal food shortages and reduce risks that threaten their livelihoods with sandbar cropping. Practical Action teaches farmers how to identify suitable sandbar cropping space, dig pits, fill them with compost, and add pumpkin seeds. Crops thrive and the pumpkins last for up to a year, enhancing food security and improving earning potential amongst extremely poor farmers.
Milestones and Achievements
In Year 1, Practical Action has reached 750 customers, 150 of which were families of female farmers. Their unique sandbar cropping technique has lead to a 54% reduction in water usage and produced approximately one million kilograms of pumpkins. The innovator has made 30 hectares of land farmable and seen a 100% repayment rate from pumpkin farmers to-date. The project team has identified five sandbar locations managed by five irrigation entrepreneurs in the Rangpur district.
- Support in water quality testing to ensure that water supplies downstream from the sandbar cropping are not adversely affected by the pumpkin growing process.
- Assistance in creating a business and marketing strategy at the national and international level and identifying opportunities for pumpkin export to other countries.
- Help in exploring the potential for growing and exporting other pumpkin varieties and vegetables using the sandbar approach.