Poison- free vegetables are being produced in the crop fields of five villages of Elliotganj South Union in Cumilla's Daudkandi upazila.
About 1,200 metric tonnes of vegetables will be produced from the fields this season. This is the lone union in Chittagong and Sylhet divisions where poison -free vegetables have been cultivated. Pesticide- free vegetables are being cultivated in ten such unions of the country. Upazila Agriculture Officer Sarwar Zaman confirmed this information.
Vegetable growers in Tamta, Bitman, Bashra, Viktala and Nayakandi villages of Elliotganj South Union are using new methods to control insects without applying pesticides.
According to the Upazila Agriculture Office, excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides is creating health risks. Soil, water and air are being polluted. Biodiversity is being damaged. To save farmers and the environment from these problems, the Department of Agricultural Extension is cultivating poison- free safe vegetables as a model project under the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) project.
Under this project IPM Model Union was formed in ten upazilas of the country. Each IPM Model Union has 25 teams. It has 20 members including eight women. They have formed a team of 500 people. On 100 acres of land they are producing safe vegetables through organic farming and use of organic pesticides. Vegetables include tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet pumpkin, cucumber, gourd, squash etc. Visiting the crop field of Elliotganj South Union, one can see this union of Daudkandi upazila next to Dhaka-Chittagong highway. A variety of vegetables have been cultivated on the fields. Agriculture officials are advising farmers to produce safe vegetables on the land. Sex pheromone traps, yellow glue traps and net houses have been installed in the land. Environmental- friendly vermi compost is being used instead of chemical fertilizer. Organic pesticides are being used instead of chemical pesticides to control harmful insects. Ten net houses have been set up here to control vegetable virus-borne diseases.
Ismail, a farmer from Tamta village, said he has cultivated poison -free tomatoes on six bighas of land. The government has provided all kinds of agricultural inputs for this. Farmers will benefit more if they set up separate markets for selling safe vegetables, he added.
Upazila Deputy Assistant Plant Protection Officer Syed Zaman said the Department of Agricultural Extension was providing free seeds, sex pheromone traps, organic pesticides and cash to farmers. Farmers have been given hands-on training on these methods seven times.
Matin Saikot, president of the central IPM club of the upazila, said, "We have started movement 20 years ago to produce poison- free crops." Day by day farmers are interested in cultivating vegetables in this way. I am working for them all the time. Hopefully the safe vegetable production of Elliotganj South Union will be successful".
Upazila Agriculture Officer Sarwar Zaman said the government has taken up the IPM project to popularise safe crop production among farmers through environment-friendly strategies. Elliotganj South Union of Daudkandi has been selected among the ten unions of the country. Elliotganj South Union will be developed as a model union for vegetable cultivation in IPM system.
He added that the farmers have demanded the establishment of a separate market for the sale of safe vegetables. They will not be interested in this method unless they get a good price. He will talk to the higher authorities about this.