DHAKA, March 27, 2017 (BSS/Unicef feature) - Smiles finally flashed on the face of Khodeza Begum, a successful female farmer of Khurdobhutchhara village under Kawnia upazila in Rangpur district. Now she leads a happy life with her five children after a long struggle.
But only a few days ago, unbearable hardship, agony and poverty were her everyday companion. Family disturbance was very usual as the family of a sharecropper witnessed impoverishment throughout the year. The family members of Khodeza used to spent most of the days without food.
The days have changed recently putting an end to their sufferings and pain. Now her family members don't remain hungry while her lovely children go to school regularly. Everything is possible thanks to determination and diligent efforts of Khodeza.
Khodeza made her family happy and self-reliant by cultivating chilli. The middle-aged woman can work with youthful energy like a young lady and has become a beacon of hope for others at her village.
She started her venture with a small piece of fallow land adjacent to her home. There, she decided to cultivate chilli. Initially she invested only Tk 7,000 and counted a profit of around Tk 20,000 creating a great hope in her mind. Then she took determination to get rid of poverty and change the luck.
In this regard, "Seed Re-Call Project", a local NGO, came forward and extended its helping hand to materialise the dream of Khodeza. Officials of the NGO imparted training to her on getting more production by using small pieces of land.
They also provided Khodeza with high yielding chilli seeds free of cost. Then she sowed the seeds on the fallow land around her house. Seeing the devotion and sincerity of Khodeza, her husband encouraged her and extended his helping hands to do this job. He gave her a piece of farm land and also helped her cultivating chilli. This time she got a profit of around Tk 40,000.
"I had to walk alone a long steep and thorny way to reach this stage. There was a time, when I couldn't have arranged a single meal on a day. Sometimes the whole family had to starve throughout the day. Poverty deterred me giving food to my children's mouth and their education was a far cry. So family disturbance was the daily event," Khodeza recalled.
"Now our fortune has changed ... one day a few NGO officials came to my house and intended to help me. They trained me how to cultivate chilli," she said. Besides her husband, also a farmer, taught a lot in this regard.
Khodeza said she earns Tk 1.5 lakh to two lakh every year by cultivating mainly green and red chilli. "Now my family is well-off, and peace came back to our life," she said, adding she can now arrange meals thrice for her children and send them to school.
Like Khodeza, another female farmer Sufia Begum of the same village who once got stuck in poverty has also become solvent by cultivating chilli.
Sufia said, "Allah showered His blessings on us ... our days have changed by the grace of Almighty. I have built a beautiful house for living and married off my daughter with the money I earned by selling chilli."
Expressing gratitude to the officials of the "Seed Re-Call Project", she said, "Inspired by them, I had taken a decision to grow chilli. At the beginning, I borrowed some money and took a piece of land on lease to cultivate chilli. But I don't need to take land on lease now. I have bought a piece of land by myself."
Re-Call Project official Maria Sarker said most of the women of this area are very industrious. "They can work hard all the day. Like Khodeza and Sufia, many women of this village and neighbourhood have stood their own feet by cultivating chilli."
Maria said most of the women of this area, who were subjected to become victims of torture by their husbands a few days back, now have become self-reliant as they have found sources of income and means to run family," she added.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)