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Feroza’s Farm Boosts Community Nutrition in Bangladesh
Feroza Begum feeding home-grown vegetables to her grandson. Image credit: Tareq Salahuddin/USAID FTF BNA
In the Faridpur district of Bangladesh, the small village of Kafura is bustling with agricultural activity.
The Abt-led Feed the Future Bangladesh Nutrition Activity is working with Konika Seed Company, a major seed supplier in southern Bangladesh, to connect homestead farmers with the quality ingredients they need to grow nutritious crops and optimize their current agricultural practices. Ultimately, this work will enable them to produce a variety of foods full of essential vitamins and minerals. To date, the Bangladesh Nutrition Activity has reached more than 20,000 households.
Feroza Begum and her family of five are among them. Her husband, Zafar Molla, has epilepsy, which limits his activities.
After receiving and planting a variety of seeds through the Activity, Begum’s family is eating nutritious food from their homestead plot, significantly improving their health. Begum earns income selling excess food to neighbors and invests the profits in a food vendor business to offer nutritious food to her community.
Feroza Begum is preparing vegetables from her homestead garden for cooking. Image credit: Tareq Salahuddin/USAID FTF BNA
Planting Seeds of Success
Through the Bangladesh Nutrition Activity, Abt conducts field demonstrations, community meetings, and agricultural advisory sessions in the Faridpur district. These sessions advise local communities on good farming practices such as fencing, preparing seedbeds and planting new seeds. They also help rural families like Begum’s understand the nutritional benefits of vegetables.
In February 2021, Konika Seed Company established a demonstration plot of vegetables on Begum’s land. She has since cultivated red amaranth, amaranth, Indian spinach, and kangkong (kolmi), a local type of water spinach, as well as bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber and sweet gourd.
“I have learned many things about proper vegetable farming through the demonstration program of Konika Seed company,” Begum said. “It has helped me ensure nutrition for my family, especially my grandchild.”
“Since February 2021, I have harvested vegetables five times, eaten them, and sold the surplus after distributing them to some of my neighbors,” Begum explained. She has more than doubled her income, which she describes as “a great support to run my family.”
Feroza Begum is at her grocery shop. Image Credit: USAID FTF BNA
Working with Abt and Feed the Future, Konika Seed Company has established 256 demonstration plots and trained more than 30,000 people in the rural Faridpur district on best practices for homestead farming. Many of the farmers who participated in the project shared they were able to replicate what they learned on their own farms.
With the profits she made from selling her produce, Begum purchased and now runs a food shop. The added income has made a big difference for her family nutritionally and economically.
“Now I know how to prepare a homestead farm and I will continue it as long as possible,” Begum said.
This story was originally published in conjunction with the Feed the Future October 2021 newsletter focusing on improving nutrition.