Until a year ago, Fakir Nurul Amin was a traditional vegetable farmer in Bangladesh, eating what he planted and making a small profit from selling his produce. Like many other smallholder farmers, Amin struggled with low productivity and low returns. Thanks to Feed the Future, he is now an example of how small changes in farming techniques and crop choices can make a big difference in agricultural productivity.
A 60-year old father of five in southern Bangladesh, Amin grew seasonal vegetables in his small yard for 40 years. Each year, Amin would invest roughly $260 in seeds and supplies to grow vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower. In spite of his hard work, he would barely recover his costs. He was forced to take out one loan after another just to support his family. As the years passed by, his family became mired in debt.
Amin’s life as a farmer took a turn for the better when he attended a training course run by a local farmers’ association and supported under Feed the Future. The association teaches smallholder farmers like Amin how to improve their farming efficiency and encourages them to adopt environmentally friendly agricultural techniques. Through the training he received, Amin learned how to produce more vegetables with fewer inputs, and how to make compost fertilizer for growing organic vegetables. He was also trained in making vegetable beds, identifying good seeds, and using improved technology to boost productivity.
Soon, Amin was able to invest less money and get better returns on his inputs. He switched to compost fertilizers and pest-killing traps rather than using chemical fertilizers and conventional chemical pesticides. He only purchased good seeds. With these changes, Amin not only improved productivity, but also managed to cut down his investment to about $77.
After his expenses, Amin is now able to save around $337 per year and has paid off a substantial portion of his debt. With the additional income and better crops, he can provide more nutritious meals for his family. He now regularly supplies his produce to the farmers’ association as a contract farmer and also sells in the local market.