Sylhet, Feb 24 (UNB) – Vegetable farming on floating beds made of water hyacinth and bamboo in water bodies or ponds, is gaining popularity in different areas of the district.
With support from Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (Bari), farmers are cultivating vegetables in abandoned ponds and water bodies making floating beds.
Farmers do not need to use fertilizer and pesticide for cultivating vegetables using the method and this method is helping them grow vegetables at lower cost. As the vegetables are being produced in a fully organic way, the demand for these vegetables is higher in the markets.
Many farmers are making good profits selling their vegetables produced on their floating gardens.
Visiting Rustampur area in Bagha union of Golapganj upazila, the UNB correspondent found that farmer Faruk Ahmed has cultivated tomato, eggplant, green chili, Red Spinach, Kalmi Shak, Ladies finger, Long Bean, pumpkin and bean in his floating garden.
He said he made the floating bed for vegetable cultivation under a project ‘Vegetables and Spice Cultivation Research, Extension and Popularization on Floating Bed’ of the Research Department of BARI.
“Though it’s very tough to build floating beds on 20-feet deep water, we’ve got success as the demand for vegetables cultivated in this method is very high in the market,” he said.
Md Kawser, an assistant scientist of BARI, said the cultivation method is very environment-friendly and vegetable produced on such beds are safe and healthy.
Under the project, BARI officials said, they are inspiring the farmers. Vegetables are being cultivated on 46 floating beds in Rustampur, Hazipur of Golapganj and Kotalpur of Fencuganj, and they have already got huge response from farmers of the areas.
Earlier, they applied the method of this vegetable faming in Sunamganj district headquarters and Dakkhin Sunmganj under the project on pilot basis. Now, they have a plan for expanding in other areas, they said.
Md Belal Miah, a farmer of Kotalpur village, said after collecting a vegetable from a floating bed, they can cultivate another vegetable on the same bed.
Dr Mahmudul Islam Nazrul, senior scientific officer of Sylhet BARI office, said vegetable production in Sylhet region is not sufficient. All varieties of vegetables are not cultivated in all areas. Besides, many ponds and canals are lying unused.
In such places, he said, farmers can become self-reliant by cultivating vegetables on floating beds.
Nazrul said government assistance to cultivate vegetables using the method will be increased.
Dhaka, Feb 24 (UNB) -Although the floriculture industry is booming with each passing year, there is still some way to go towards realizing its full potential.
The businesses said that recently the use of flowers has vastly increased among the young especially, as changing cultural practices combining with enhanced consumerism in a growing economy. The calendar these days is packed with days when flower sellers can make a killing, and the export market is gradually picking up. These are the trends that have expedited the growth of the flower business in the country.
Even artificial flowers are gaining in popularity gradually, thanks to their use during different occasions including marriage, political and cultural programs, mainly as decorative items. Artificial flowers also enjoy the advantage of not being perishable.
According to floriculture industry insiders, the country’s flowers and floral products are being exported to different countries including India, Pakistan, Italy, Portugal, Middle east country specially Saudi Arabia, the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Britain, Denmark and France.
A recent report of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) said the country’s local market for flowers and cut foliage has reached Tk1,200 crore per annum and growing at 10 percent per annum.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, the country’s export earnings from Cut Flower and Foliage for the July to January period of the current fiscal (2018-19) touched $3.98 million already, up from just $0.02 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
EPB data also read, Bangladesh exported cut flowers, leaves, trees, plants, bulbs, roots of $86,000 (about Tk 72 lakh) in the 2016-17 fiscal, and $78,000 (about Tk 65 lakh) in the previous fiscal.
Abdur Rahim, president of Bangladesh Flower Society (BFS), said Bangladesh has an economic advantage thanks to its favorable climate and topography as well as low labour costs and relatively low capital investment, which is helping the sector to flourish. “We can better grip the markets both at home and abroad,” Rahim said.
“More than 20 districts including Jashore, Jhenidah, Magura, Rangpur, Bogra, Dhaka (Savar), Gazipur and Manikganj districts, view thethe flower and foliage farming are cultivated flowers. Around 200,000 people are directly and indirectly dependent on this sector while more than 25,000 families are engaged in cultivating flowers,” he also said.
Anwar Faruque, former secretary of Agriculture Ministry told, “We can earn huge amount of foreign currency if we can cultivate flowers properly. We noticed that the demand of Bangladeshi flowers is positive to world markets. So we should facilitate the cultivation process and train up farmers in this regard.
“The government and involved people of the sector have to move for introducing modern technologies and ensuring supply of newer seeds, building warehouses and cold storages,” he also said.
According to International Trade Centre (ITC) study, the global flower exports over the last few years have grown by more than 10% annually. Based on this trend, the global export of flowers is expected to reach $45 billion in 2018.
However, World Floriculture Map read the export value reached over $10 billion in 2015 from only cut flower segment. However, Europe is the largest consumer of floriculture followed by North America and China.
Babul Proshad, president of Dhaka Ful Bayabsayee Kallyan Somity Ltd, “We have been doing natural flower business for long years at Shahbagh, we cannot selling artificial flowers. Our business is affected over the products.
“Import duty of artificial products that are made plastic should be further increased. These items also affected for environment,” he also said.
Director of DCCI, also former president, Abul Kasem Khan said, the flower sector is a very potent industry but there is no specific policy for the emerging here. To establish the sector, infrastructure development through investing in more cold storages is much needed.
Dr. M. A. Matin, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) told UNB that the artificial flowers are made of plastic or polythene materials, which are harmful to the environment. All the more reason then, to abandon them.
Dhaka, Feb 24 (UNB/IPS) – Bangladesh economy’s impressive growth trajectory over the last decade has been buttressed by the demographic dividend deriving from a large portion of its population — around 65 percent on average — being of working age.
However, experts think the growing prosperity has also resulted in an increase in the population’s longevity as people live longer these days and that poses a new challenge for the government as the number of dependents keeps rising without corresponding steps to ensure their rights, dignity and necessary facilities.
According to government statistics, around 7.5 percent (12.5 million) of the country’s total population constitutes the elderly people while the number is expected to increase sharply and reach around 20 percent (over 40 million) by 2050.
Under the circumstances, the country’s population experts and rights activists think the government should take proper programmes and policies to cater to the specific needs, including health, finical, civic amenities, of the growing number of ageing population.
Prof AKM Nurun Nabi of Dhaka University’s Population Sciences department said the population trends in Bangladesh show that the country is well into third phase of demographic transition, having shifted from a high mortality–high fertility regime to a low mortality–low fertility one, offering a window of opportunity to the country, referred to as the ‘demographic dividend’.
“The demographic dividend usually continues for 30 to 35 years. Although the demographic transition creates the demographic dividend, it also brings significant challenges with it,” he observed.
In Bangladesh, Nabi said various projections suggest that by 2025 one in 10 persons will be elderly and by 2050 one in five persons will be elderly.
The population scientist said the policymakers need to take effective steps for ensuring various necessary services for the poor, middle-class and urban affluent ageing population by increasing the number of service providing institutions. “The ageing population must be integrated to society by involving them with their old profession.”
Nabi put forward some more suggestions, including creating endowment funds by building partnership between different segments of society and sectors of economy, introducing a priori-deduction system from wages at earlier ages as a forced savings for old age allowance, establishing community ageing deposit scheme, restructuring the retirement age and finding way out for resulting in crisis in occupational mobility.
Chairman of the Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Kazi Reazul Hoque said special measures and polices alongside raising awareness are essential to ensure the welfare of ageing people as their number keeps growing due to a rise in the average lifespan.
“I feel the rights of elderly persons are not being ensured now that much way. The older persons deserve more attention and care from the state as well as society,” he observed.
The NHRC chairman said ageing people, especially women ones, are very vulnerable group in the country and the policymakers need to take steps to protect the vulnerable people and ensure their rights.
He said the National Policy on Older Persons are not implemented for lack of sincere efforts by the authorities concerned while the Parents’ Maintenance Act–2013 are not being enforced for lack of its rules and regulation and awareness among people.
Hoque said the ageing people are being subjected to various repressions and negligence by their children and others.
Joint secretary to Social Welfare Ministry Abeda Akter said their ministry is thinking of taking various steps to ensure the rights and dignity of the older persons and meet the challenges of their management in the days to come.
She said the government introduced a monthly allowance programme for older people in 1998 and currently 40 lakh elderly people are getting Tk 500 every month as old age allowance. “The number of the allowance recipients will gradually be increased.”
Another official of the ministry, wishing anonymity, said they have formulated a work plan four years back in light of the National Policy on Older Persons to provide the senior citizens with various facilities, including ID cards, health cards, and reserved seats and tickets at reduced rates during their travel in buses, trains, steamers, health access vouchers, saving schemes, accommodation, but they could not implement those due to bureaucratic complications.
In his research titled “Elderly People’ in Bangladesh: Vulnerabilities, Laws and Policies, Jahangirnagar University Anthropology department teacher Sazzadul Alam, identified 12 types of vulnerabilities -– lack of social dignity, economic crisis, accommodation problem, illness, falling health, physical assault, mobility problem, emotional vulnerability, recreation problem, family burden, far from relatives and food crisis –that are faced by the elderly people in Bangladesh.
He said elderly population needs economic support, including food, clothing, medical care, and housing as well as cultural support.
Dhaka, Feb 23 (UNB) - Najmun Nahar’s childhood was different from most of her friends. Her father had different plans in teaching her the lessons of life, which ultimately scattered her soul all over the earth. And having visited some 125 countries across the globe in the last 18 years, you could say her body seems determined to match her soul.
“My father used to tell me that I was not meant to be confined within the four walls like other girls of my time,” Nahar told UNB on a recent visit to the Cosmos Group’s headquarters in Dhaka. “In my childhood, I watched flying birds, butterflies which moved me to extend myself, cross my limitations and just go on and on.”
Another reason fuelling her wanderlust, she says, is her love of cartography - the study of maps and mapmaking. “I used to read a lot and in those stories I could find myself wandering in different locations, I could realise that the thing I was born to do is travel,” she added.
This passion for travel runs deep in her family. Her grandfather travelled several locations in Middle East in the period of 1926 to 1931. Nahar said that her grandfather’s adventures gave her hope and served as a great inspiration.
“In his times, travelling abroad was a serious labour and risky affair. If he could’ve endured such loads, then I must too,” she said, explaining how she started out in chasing her passion.
Najmun Nahar started her journey in 2000 as a participant in the ‘India International Adventure Program’ visiting Bhopal in India. Up until 2018, she has visited 110 countries across the globe, with 32 countries covered in 2018 alone.
Already in 2019, Nahar has completed a route taking in 15 countries in Western Africa, including Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone and other countries along the Gold Coast.
“People of Western Africa in general are economically deprived but they embrace tourists like me with love. From their humble acts, I’ve learnt the language of love and harmony which connects all of humanity,” Nahar said.The young Bangladeshi got the accolade of ‘Flag Girl’ from the government of the Zambia as she carried the flag of Bangladesh all-around the globe and represented her beloved country.
She told UNB about her interactions on foreign soil introducing Bangladesh in a positive tone. “I visited many schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the countries I visited. I tried to hold a presentation in all of them to introduce Bangladesh and its culture to the students there,” she said.
Nahar is eyeing to reach the 200 mark in travelling countries across the earth within 2021.
“If I get the chance, I’ll pay a visit to Iceland again for its unearthly natural beauty,” she said when asked to name her favourite among all the destinations she has been to so far.
For those who are interested to follow her footsteps, Nahar left some encouraging and instructive words. “Our lives are short and within this short period, we all must do something; for humanity, for our country and ourselves. So I would urge our youth to be fearless and self-dependent in order to set foot out for the world,” she said, adding that one needs to be adaptive and tactful to face critical situations.
“No matter which country you reach you have to keep a cordial relation with the natives there. It will come to help in numerous ways,” she gave her insights. She also stressed extensive research on countries to lay out a tour plan and travel economically.
“It is much more convenient to visit neighbouring countries of Europe and Africa by road. I completed many trips this way,” she said. She urged the parents of Bangladeshi youth not to confine the future generation to a maze of strict rules, especially the girls.
“Now is the time to prosper as a nation for us removing the discrimination between males and females. We girls can reach unthinkable heights and my story can be an example too,” she said.
“I have a dream that one day Bangladesh will be a name that will symbolise peace and harmony. We will spread the language of solidarity and embrace every opportunity of progress,” she said in conclusion.
Clearly Nahar sees life as a learning ground where to take new lessons and keep growing, you have to keep yourself on the move.
Dhaka, Feb 16 (UNB) – As children face “serious protection risks”, including psychosocial distress, neglect, abuse, separation from caregivers, sexual violence, child marriage and labour, child protection system will remain a priority in Rohingya camps this year as well, officials said.
Rapid and effective humanitarian action under the leadership of the government of Bangladesh has saved many lives since August 2017 and met critical needs and protected nearly one million Rohingyas, according to UN agencies.
Launched in Geneva on Friday to deal with Rohingya humanitarian crisis, the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) contains a “dedicated objective” to that end, said an official here on Saturday.
Steps will be taken in coordination with the Department of Social Services (DSS) to strengthen the child protection system, including linkages to, and improved quality of, government-led service delivery, said the official.
Children represent 55 percent of all Rohingyas of which 343,206 are in need of immediate child protection assistance, according to the JRP.
Rohingya children are experiencing high levels of distress after witnessing extreme violence in Myanmar, as well as being exposed to continued stressful living conditions.
As of October 2018, the JRP reveals, some 6,100 unaccompanied and separated children have been registered and are at heightened risk of child trafficking, abuse and exploitation in the camps.
Girls, who represent a larger proportion (57%14) of this vulnerable group, are particularly at risk of child marriage, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect, the JRP mentions.
There remains a high need for robust family-based alternative care arrangements for unaccompanied and separated children, as well as family tracing and reunification and the provision of support to foster care families.
While much has been achieved, the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh has not fully stabilised, according to co-chairs of the strategic executive group - UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo, Representative of UNHCR in Bangladesh Steven Corliss and Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh Giorgi Gigauri.
The 2019 JRP, according to them, will be the vehicle for mobilising critically needed support for humanitarian response for the Rohingyas.
The JRP sets out a comprehensive programme shaped around three strategic objectives – deliver protection, provide life-saving assistance and foster social cohesion.
Priorities for the current year include supporting strengthened government leadership and accountability, including in the camps, and the effective participation of the Rohingya community in decisions affecting their lives.
In 2019, the government of Bangladesh and UNHCR will accelerate the ongoing joint verification exercise that will register the Rohingyas and provide them with individual documentation, in many cases for the first time.
More accurate data, disaggregated by age, sex, gender and other diversity factors, will facilitate planning and targeting of assistance and services, while biometric enrolment will strengthen the integrity of delivery.
UN aid agencies and NGO partners appealed for raising US$920 million to meet the massive needs of over 900,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar and over 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in host communities.
The 2018 JRP was funded at 69 per cent, or US$655 million received against US$950 million requested, said the UN refugee agency - UNHCR
The 2019 JRP is the third joint humanitarian appeal and builds on achievements made thus far in order to further stabilise the situation of Rohingyas.