Written June 2009
Sreemoti Usharani Gossami, a 55-year-old Bangladeshi widow from Atapur village in Debidwar upazila, Comilla district, supports her family by cultivating rice on less than an acre of land.
Life was easier when her husband was alive. He was a very progressive farmer and the family owned a shallow tube well, which provided additional income from the sale of water to other farmers. They had eight bighas (2.64 acres) of land on which to grow rice, which adequately fulfilled the food requirements of the family.
Due to village politics, they lost five bighas of their land and faced extreme poverty, including food insecurity. The three remaining bighas (about one acre) did not produce enough rice to feed the family. She and her husband had to miss one to two meals almost every day and then her husband died in 2006. After his death, someone stole their shallow tube well, which made the situation even more dire.
Usharani was very concerned about how she would feed her children. She was concerned about whether it was proper for her to work in the field, but she knew she must for the survival of the family. In 2007 she and her daughters started growing rice on her small piece of land.
During the 2008 Boro paddy season, she learned about urea deep placement (UDP) technology (also called Guti) from an IFDC field officer and an agriculture officer from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). Both encouraged Usharani to use UDP to increase paddy yield and to save urea. She received UDP training conducted by IFDC in collaboration with DAE under the USAID-funded project “Expansion of Urea Deep Placement Technology in 80 Upazilas of Bangladesh during Boro 2008.”
After receiving training, Usharani and her daughters deep-placed Guti urea in all of their paddy land. And then they waited for harvest. She said that due to the application of Guti urea, the Boro paddy yield in their field increased by 200 kilograms (kg) per bigha using 23 kg less urea per bigha. As a result, she received an additional 600 kg of paddy yield from her land.
She was so encouraged by this additional grain for her family that she applied Guti urea in Aman paddy also and the result was the same. Now she is harvesting an additional 1,200 kg of paddy rice from her small plot of land annually.
She is also excited that UDP does not require using as much urea as she previously used. “I have the magic technology, which I never dreamed of,” Usharani said. “Happy days have returned. I can feed my children and myself three times a day now. This technology has changed my life; I now have hope and the means to live much better tomorrow.” Because of her success, Usharani has been able to build a new tin house and pay for her children to attend school.
She is the pioneer in expanding UDP technology in her village. Because of Usharani’s success, other farmers have been motivated to use Guti urea. Consequently, about 80 percent of paddy land in that village has been fertilized using the UDP technology.