The difference a pumpkin can make

Every year the monsoon rains come to Bangladesh, and rivers flood. With climate change, the flooding has become more severe, destroying crops and eroding topsoil. This has devastated local communities. The failure of farming in the area has left many with no means to make a living, and malnourishment has increased.

One of the main problems is that after the flood waters recede, they leave behind vast deposits of sand and silt, which remain there until the rains return. These sandbars are unstable and unproductive – unless you can find some way of growing food on sand.

Sandbar-CroppingPractical Action have spent several years experimenting with ‘sandbar cropping’ in the region. After testing various techniques and crops with local farmers, they have discovered that pumpkins offer the best solution. Pits are dug in the sand and filled with compost and a handful of pumpkin seeds. The seeds will germinate and reach maturity before the floods return, and each pit can produce around 10 pumpkins.

The advantage of a pumpkin is that it can store for a year, so households get a reliable source of food. They’re nutritious and a source of Vitamin A. If families can grow enough to sell, then there are further benefits. Trials showed that farmers were able to significantly improve their diets, and earn enough to educate children or improve their homes. This effect led Practical Action to create their current schools campaign, Pumpkins Against Poverty, which you might want to take a look at it if you teach children aged 7-11.

pumpkinOne interesting thing about sandbar cropping is that it is able to reach the landless and the displaced. During the monsoon rivers can change course and farmers can lose their land, leaving them with nothing. Learning to farm the sandbars offers a way to keep producing food. Practical Action cite a farmer who had been displaced five times in a decade. When he discovered pumpkin farming, he was able to produce 4,000 pumpkins in a year. This was enough to buy cows and branch out into fish farming too, diversifying his family’s opportunities and reducing their vulnerability.

Sandbar cropping is a simple technique with powerful results, and a good example of climate change adaptation in one of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Tags: ,

2 Comments on “The difference a pumpkin can make”

  1. jovialspoon January 8, 2016 at 1:44 am #

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging good news story. Though I’m no gardener myself, I have often seen that pumpkins can grow quite well even in very poor conditions. They’re a remarkable vegetable. It’s good to read some positive news like this.
    Cheers
    Michael

  2. Alex Davie April 7, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

    Inspiring to know that such work goes on to really impact peoples lives. Nice one.

    Alex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: