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. Practical Action has taught over 600 female farmers to grow pumpkins on barren sandbars, focusing exclusively on building the capacity of the landless poor and on empowering both women and men in the households affected by the program in Bangladesh.
With family members included, there are 2,529 users of the approach, and they have realized 25 million liters of water savings, grown more than 5,000 tons of food, repurposed 91 hectares of land, increased average household incomes by $305, and realized a 100% repayment rate of loans provided to start the pumpkin farming practices of farmers.
Practical Action has taught over 600 female farmers to grow pumpkins on barren sandbars.
The August 2016 flood in the district of Kurigram displaced 2,500 individuals and left them in critical need of food, water, and first-aid. Despite being nearly forty kilometers away from the afflicted areas, the Sandbar Cropping farmers, within the hour of the emergency response call, happily volunteered to assist their fellow citizens; hundreds of households donated their time, services, and pumpkins—five metric tons worth of nourishment for the victims who lost all means of survival.
On a broader, more fundamental scale, the innovation shows us how these communities that some call underprivileged, are unified in their efforts to adapt to their altered environment as means to survive, thrive, empower themselves, and give to others.
Their efforts have created in some poor farmers a better understanding of the local value chain, with sandbar cropping farmers now paying attention to local, regional, and national markets – and around 1,000 pumpkins sold by each household for around €0.15 each throughout the region.