They Can, and They Do
Both men’s and women’s farmer groups are learning new agricultural skills from local partner Participatory Action for Rural Innovation. “PARI” is not only an abbreviation of the partner’s name but a Bengali word meaning “We can,” and is a good stand-in for how participants feel about what they’re accomplishing.
Before Shefali joined a women’s group, she’d never been offered an opportunity to participate in any kind of agricultural training. She was motivated by the hope of improving adverse conditions in her village like poverty and people going without food during devastating droughts or periods of flooding. After learning the basics of sustainable practices, other group members selected her to receive training in off-season vegetable gardening, including which vegetables to grow in which season. She was inspired to start a kitchen garden at home, and has shared her knowledge with her group.
Says Shefali, “I will continue to encourage other farmers to use their labor properly to meet their family’s nutritional needs. I am hoping that the training I got from the program will play a vital role in spreading awareness among the farmers in my village.”
In another village, Monohar talks about his initial reluctance to join a men’s farmer group. “Most of the 120 families here depend on agriculture. We produce crops in the traditional way. We are not familiar with the modern new technologies in agriculture.”
Even after he listened to PARI staff talk about the program, Monohar refused to join. It was only after he saw some of the results of the other farmers that he opted in. “I used to use excessive amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the hope of getting increased harvests. My production costs were high, my yields poor, and I was struggling to support my family.”
Still, he didn’t have much faith in the idea of organic fertilizer, and thought it was a lot of trouble to make and to apply to his soil. Now that he’s seen how effective it is in improving soil fertility and producing greater yields, he’s sold on organic. “I think many farmers will benefit from these initiatives,” he says.
Bangladesh Dewanganj Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Participatory Action for Rural Innovation (PARI)