Kobita Pal – Hope When There Wasn’t Any

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Be on the lookout for our upcoming IFDC Magazine, due out this month. Until then, enjoy one of several success stories included in the next issue.

Kobita Pal stands in her garden. Her golden sari glows as she reaches up to pick a healthy, green banana. A proud smile comes across her face.

“It wasn’t always like this,” she says. “Two years ago, we didn’t have enough to feed one person, much less four.” Kobita Pal, 35, is now a successful vegetable producer living in the Bagerhat district of Bangladesh. She has been married for 19 years, and she has a daughter, 18, and a son, 13.

Her ascent started when a neighbor advised her to talk to a non-governmental organization (NGO) offering local jobs. The organization sent her to their training center to become a village health attendant. “I worked hard,” she says, “but the money wasn’t good.”

Her reward came when the NGO noticed her perseverance and selected her as part of their lending staff. Kobita’s work ethic led to her being selected to join the Union Development Committee (UDC), which helps distribute money to the rural poor.

With the earnings from the UDC, she began to farm vegetables and fruit next to her house. In the summer of 2014, she received training from the Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement-Walmart Foundation Activity (AAPI-WFA), a partnership between IFDC and Walmart that trains women to use fertilizer deep placement (FDP) in vegetable production.

Kobita used FDP technology (called Guti by local farmers) on her crops for the following three seasons. After the first two seasons, she yielded a net profit of Bangladeshi Taka 45,000, nearly U.S. $600.

There were setbacks in the Summer 2015 season, however. “When the rains came, I thought the whole crop would be lost – and it would have been with the old way [of broadcasting fertilizer]. But we ended up breaking even, and the crops we did save were greener and healthier than my neighbors’, who also spent more on fertilizer. The credit for this goes to the Guti.”

Kobita uses her experience and influence to inspire the women in her community to use Guti. “IFDC changed my life – it gave me hope when there wasn’t any.”

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