Rini Begum, a 33-year-old vegetable farmer from Bagdanga village, Sadar Upazila, Jessore, Bangladesh, is one of many women who has seen the benefits of the IFDC-Walmart Accelerating Vegetable Productivity Improvement (AVPI) project’s goal “to boost the knowledge and income of women vegetable and fruit farmers in southern Bangladesh.” In 2014, Rini and her husband, living on an increasingly shrinking line of credit, were searching for a way out of debt and into financial stability. It was now or never for the couple, and they turned to what they knew best: farming.
Rini has been growing seasonal vegetables on about 1 acre of her family’s land for the last 16 years. She was in just the 10th grade when she married her farming husband, Md. Litu, and soon after their marriage she began helping with the work in their crop fields. Despite their generous investments into bettering their farmland, high production costs combined with a low crop yield put Rini and her husband on the verge of financial ruin. In fact, they were forced to take out large loans just to cover their basic living expenses.
In 2014, as she tried to help her family out of their financial distress, Rini attended one of IFDC’s AVPI two-day training programs. There she learned crucial farming methods such as the importance of using improved seeds for increased vegetable production, the benefits of fertilizer deep placement (FDP) for increased crop production, how to use integrated pest management (IPM) technology, other good agricultural practices (GAP), and how to market her crops.
After her training, Rini and her husband began testing the good farming practices on a small portion of their crops. Their first attempt with the new GAP and FDP technology was on just 20 decimals (less than one-tenth of a hectare) of land. Overall, Rini and her husband were able to use 15-20 percent less fertilizer, and they saw a yield increase of 30 percent.
By the 2016-2017 season, Rini was ready to expand her new knowledge to 57 decimals of her 99-decimal field. With a variation of crops including tomatoes, country beans, and eggplants, Rini and her husband were glad to see an increase in their crop yields, and again, they were able to use 15-20 percent less fertilizer. On top of that, after successfully selling 90 percent of her yields, Rini’s net profits came to approximately U.S.$1,856.
Today, Rini and her husband are out of debt and saving for the future. Once she is done with her household duties, Rini stays busy caring for her fields, implementing the techniques that the AVPI project training sessions taught her. In fact, with the help of her profits from 2016, Rini says that her family purchased a cow and a television. She is also able to spend time sewing clothes that she sells for additional income. Rini now lives with more confidence in her family’s financial and nutritional future.