NETRAKONA: Vegetable farming on floating beds in water-bodies is gaining popularity in haor areas of the district, as it holds the prospect of changing farmers' fortunes.
Due to floods and natural calamities, vegetables could not be produced in this area. The farmers are now cultivating different types of vegetables, including cucumber, pumpkin, lady's finger, snake gourd and tomato, in an alternative way.
Farmers are happy with the method that gives them a good yield at low production cost. Many farmers are making good profit by selling their vegetables produced in the floating beds. In the monsoon, when croplands remain flooded, demand for the vegetables is being met from Netrakona and its surrounding areas.
According to local sources, the Coma Beel waters in Purbadhala in the district are now full of vegetation.
Abdul Monayem Khan, a farmer of the Coma Beel, said, "The farmers are benefiting as there is no additional cost of inputs, including fertilisers and pesticides, in the floating system of farming. Once people of this area used to unemployed during the rainy season. Now everyone is self-reliant by cultivating floating vegetables."
However, the farmers have demanded the establishment of cold storage alongside the development of the communications system in the area.
Emdadul Haque, a farmer from Chochaura village, said, "We were used to hanging out in the rainy season. Now get water hyacinth on the beel next to my house decomposed and cultivate various vegetables on the rotten pile of water hyacinth. Good yields come in a few days. No fertiliser or pesticide is required. We can also sell our vegetables in markets by meeting the family demand."
Purbadhala Upazila Agriculture Officer Shafiqul Islam says various types of vegetables, including gourd, pumpkin, chichinga, potato and cucumber, are being produced in hundreds of acres of land in this area. The local agriculture department is giving regular advice to the farmers.
"The cultivation of floating vegetables is increasing day by day as it is profitable at low production cost."
FM Mubarak Ali, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Netrakona, said the cultivation of vegetables in this method has started in every upazila, not only in Purbadhala. "If the cultivation of floating vegetables spreads to other parts of the country, including haor region, in the off-season, the farmers will benefit a lot after meeting their family demand'."
He adds: "The farmers are becoming self-sufficient with a windfall profit by cultivating off-season vegetables following the floating method."