The sweet pumpkins of Teesta Balu Char are like a farmer’s golden crop. The farmers of Teestarpar in Lalmonirhat have proved that if you know how to cultivate, you can grow gold even in sand.
Even though the Teesta river is dry during the monsoons, numerous sandbanks rise up in the Hemante Teesta. During the monsoon, the two banks of the river overflow and flood, causing extensive damage to crops. At the same time, the cropland and settlements were destroyed due to erosion. Teesta river turns into dusty sand at the end of monsoon. There are about half a hundred chars in Lalmonirhat district surrounded by Teesta and Dharla rivers.
The people of the grasslands, deprived of resources due to floods and erosion, wake up in the urge of livelihood and sow crops in the sand pastures. It is very difficult to grow crops in dusty sand. The people of the riverside work tirelessly to provide two handfuls of rice in their stomachs and cultivate crops in the sand. However, although cucumbers, watermelons and almonds are cultivated in grasslands, sweet pumpkins are more valued. Cultivation of sweet pumpkin in the sand of the grasslands has low cost and high yield, so farmers are more interested in this crop.
Farmers said that they dig holes with sand and fill the holes with alluvium brought from outside. Sow sweet pumpkin seeds 3/4 per hole mixed with organic fertilizer in each hole. After that, when the seedling grows, water irrigation and a little care, flowers and fruits start coming. Sand grazing trees do not need to be paid. Each plant produces about 8/10 pumpkins. Each pumpkin weighs 3/4 kg. Farmers collect and sell sweet pumpkins before monsoon. Each pumpkin field is sold at the rate of Tk 50/60.
Farmer Manchur Ali of Pangatari village of Gokunda Union of Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila said that he has no land of his own. There is no alternative to farming to support the family. So he planted 1000 sweet pumpkin seedlings in the raised sand on the Teesta river. His fields are beginning to bear fruit. The farmer hopes to sell at least 40 thousand sweet pumpkins from this field which costs only 10 thousand taka.
Sabu Mia, a farmer in the same area, said that all the land was destroyed in the river. There is no land to plant a gourd tree. I dug a hole in the sandy land of Char and planted 500 sweet pumpkin seedlings. Irrigation water has to be piped from far away. Each tree has 7/8 pumpkins. I hope that 20 thousand rupees will come in this cultivation of three months.
Mojibur Rahman, Hazrat Ali, Jobed Mia, farmers of Teesta Char area, said that the tree seedlings roam in the sand. So no need to pay anything. It costs less. Production is also good. There is no substitute for sweet pumpkin in the sandy soil of the grasslands for more profit at less cost. The government gives millions of rupees every year. But the pasture farmers do not get it. If this opportunity is available, cultivation could be done on a large scale in these abandoned sand pastures. If the flood does not come early, the farmer hopes to sell pumpkins worth 40/50 thousand rupees.