Daighors and Nayakrishi Seed Huts: An approach to sustainable nutrition and food safety

Daighors are the centers run by Traditional Birth Attendants (locally known as Dai Mas) to provide advisory and referral services to women and young girls. They ensure care and monitoring of pregnant women, the new borne and children (mostly under 5). These Dais live in the community and interact with women very intimately and take care of them for their health and most importantly through properly advised food to fulfill specific nutritional deficiencies or to ensure nutritious food that are needed at different stages of their lives. The older Dai Mas are respected and are considered to be the custodians of knowledge in relation to women’s reproductive health, adolescent and children’s health, knowledge about medicinal and nutritional qualities of food that are cultivated and uncultivated. The Dai mas have been working in the villages for years and have been involved in helping women during pregnancy and at the time of child delivery for more than one or two generations of people in the same village. There are 35 Dai ghors in 15 districts involving more than 650 Dai Mas, trained with special knowledge on risks that need to be referred since 2012 supported by Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) of the Canadian government through Primates’ World Relief and Development (PWRDF) during 2012 - 2015. Among them 5 Dai Ghors are located in Tangail with 304 Dai Mas out of which 102 Dai mas received special training. A cluster of villages between four to Five villages are covered under each Daighor. A Daima Committee has been formed, including the more experienced and specialised Daimas. A committee consiting of 5 members in each Dai ghor runs the activities of the Daighor. Monthly mothers meeting, Daima meeting and community meeting are held in each of the Daighor.

Nayakrishi farmers practising biodiversity-based farming have been active in Tangail since 1992. The core of the movement lies in the preservation of diverse local seeds which are cultivated without use of chemical fertilizers, ground water and pesticides. The farmers connect with each other through Nayakrishi Seed Network for exchanging seeds and knowledge among themselves. The Nayakrishi Seed Network functions through the Community Seed Wealth Center (CSWC), known as Beez Sampad Kendra, located at UBINIG center level. The CSWC has networking with seven Seed Huts known as Beej Akhra located at the village level and managed by the farmers, specially women farmers. There is a Seed Expert Committee comprised of 10/12 members for each of the Beej Akhra. These members meet once in a month. The Community Seed Wealth Center in Nayakrishi area and the Seed Hut linked with farmers own seed keeping at household level play major role in seed conservation and seed management. The Seed Wealth Center and the Seed Huts have conserved 3567 varieties of seeds of different crops [as of December, 2015]. These seeds included rice, vegetables, pulses, oil seeds, fruits, spices and other essential seeds. Farmers have been working for enrichment of biodiversity and conservation of genetic resources. The seeds of different varieties are regenerated in every season. Rice research is an important work at the center level. Every year rice research involving the following varieties is conducted in the aman (kharif-2) season. In addition the seeds of other crops including the vegetables are regenerated every year.

Germplsm maintained in the Nayakrishi Community Seed Wealth Center (CSW), Tangail Center

Serial Number Species Number of varieties
1 Paddy (Total) 1747
1a Aman paddy 1736
1b Aus paddy 06
1c Boro paddy 05
2 Fruit vegetables 117
3 Leafy vegetables 09
4 Pulses 06
5 Oil seeds 07
6 Other cereals 05
7 Spices 18
8 Fruits 20 (species)
9 Flowers 07 (species)
10 Medicinal plants 15
11 Timbers 09
12 Fiber (jute) 02
13 Fiber (cotton) 01
Total 1963

A Seed Hut is established for 4/5 villages. Seeds of hundreds of varieties are conserved in the Seed Hut. These seeds are exchanged and distributed among the farmers led by the women farmers. The seeds resources are safely maintained in the hands of women.

Daighors and the Beej Akhras: The cases of Shalponaru and Nanduria villages

Farmers grow varieties of crops matching seasons and respective ecological conditions. Shalpanaru village is a Nayakrishi area. Varieties of crops are grown here because this village is a charland near a river. There is a Nayakrishi Seed Hut at Shalpanaru village. This Seed Hut was established in 2008. There are 97 varieties of seeds in this Seed Hut including cereals, vegetables, spices, etc. The farmers take seed matching seasons and exchange seeds among themselves. In addition seeds are distributed among the farmers from the Seed Hut.

daighorseed huts

Daighor and Nayakrishi Seed Huts

A Daighor was established in Shalpanaru village in 2014 for offering health service among mothers and children. The Daimas (traditional birth attendants) provide advice and service among the pregnant mothers on different aspects of health. They use varieties of medicinal plants for treatment. Each Daima is experienced for 20/30 years in the profession. They are known for their performance and are in demand from the village families.

Daimas offer advice to all people including the pregnant mothers to take fresh green and yellow vegetables, fruits and other nutritious food. Accordingly, the women in the village take seed from the Seed Hut for growing diverse crops in order for satisfying the family need. The women and specially the pregnant mothers collect seed from the Seed Hut for growing vegetables and fruits in their homestead areas. The close proximity of Seed Hut and Daighor has been a great opportunity for the pregnant mothers to get the seeds of desired crops so easily near at hand.

Daighor and Seed Hut situation in Tangail

Upazila Union Village Daighor Seed Hut
Delduar Lauhati Shalpanaru 1 1
  Fazilhati Fazilhati   1
  Atia Mamudpur   1
Nanduria 1  
Nallapara   1
  Dauli Babupur   1
    Jhunkai   1
  Pathrail Bishnapur 1  
  Delduar Sadar Rupshi godtola 1  
Basail Kanchenpur Kodaliapara 1  
    Chankapara   1

Pregnant mothers remain healthy taking fresh vegetables from own production. They discuss different issues of mothers and children in the monthly meetings. Daimas discuss issues of food and nutrition in the mothers meeting. Daimas know very well about different items of food essentially needed for the pregnant mothers. They have been teaching the pregnant mothers about the quantity of different items needed by the pregnant mothers with the help of the nutrition pyramid. Daimas also know about the five risks at the time of delivery. They also refer to hospital in case of any problem.

seed hutsseed huts

A friendly relationship has been established among the farmers, Daimas and the pregnant mothers centering the Seed Hut. Mothers regularly collect and exchange seed from the Seed Hut. According to the advice of the Daimas the pregnant mothers take seed from the Seed Hut and grow crops based on seasons. The main vegetables include ash gourd, sweet gourd, stem amaranth, okra, Indian spinach, brinjal, cucumber, water gourd, tomato, string bean, sponge gourd, snake gourd, plantain, papaya, etc. The Daimas advice the pregnant mothers to take seed from the Seed Hut. Accordingly the mothers collect seed from the Seed Hut and grow crops based on seasons. At present the crops of kharif season including snake gourd, ash gourd, ridged gourd, stem amaranth, sponge gourd, sweet gourd are there in the field and also in the home stead. The mothers have grown these vegetable as per the advice of the Daimas. They have grown these crops with a view to satisfying the need of nutrition. Seeds of water gourd, spinach, leafy amaranth, cucumber, sweet gourd, radish, etc have also been distributed from the Seed Hut for growing in the next season.

The pregnant mothers freely discuss their problems with the Daimas. In case of anemia or iron deficiency arum, banana stem, plantain, brinjal, okra, uncultivated vegetables, telakucha, thankuni, kolmi are offered among pregnant mothers. Yellow colored fruits, ripe banana, papaya, jack fruit, mango, yellow colored vegetables, sweet gourd, carrot, red amaranth, red colored Indian spinach are offered in case of impaired eye vision. Milk and egg are advised in case of general physical weakness. In addition the uncultivated leafy greens like helencha, dondokolosh, etc. are also advised. The uncultivated leafy vegetables are rich in medicinal content. Bitter juice of kalomegh, gondovadale leaf juice, jute leaf, bitter brinjal, hogs plum, guava, pine apple are offered in case of loss of appetite.

Daimas also offer valuable advice for nutrition of the babies. Babies below the age of one year are offered khichuri- rice, sweet gourd, potato, small fish without bones, tomato, carrot, lentil are mixed and cooked. This is offered among babies for optimum growth matching age. The quantity of vegetables will be increased with growing age. These foods are advised from the age of six months to five years. In addition, fruits including mango, banana, papaya, jack fruit etc. will be offered to the babies. Habit formation will be encouraged for taking seasonal fruits and vegetables from early childhood.

Nanduria Daighor

A Daighor has been established in Nanduria village as recognition of the Daimas in the locality and a common space for them to sit together. Nallapara Seed Hut is established about 2/3 kilometes from this Daighor. Daimas advice the pregnant mothers and other women to take seed from the Seed Hut for growing crops with a view to ensuring the safe supply of mutritious food. Seeds are distributed among the people of other villages.


Nayakrishi farmers have exchanged and distributed seeds through Nallapara Seed Hut to the families having pregnant women and young children who need specific vegetables and fruits.

Daima Jarina Begum mentioned “food grown without chemical fertilizer and pesticides are safe food.” Safe foods grown in the field and homestead are rich sources of nutrition. Uncultivated foods available in the field and homestead are common resources. Thesee are open for all. There is no restriction for collection. Girls and house wives go in group for collection of uncultivated vegetables in the morning and evening.

We collect un-cultivated vegetables round the year’, said Amena Begum, a pregnant mother. We feel uncomfortable if we do not take vegetables for two days.

Dai Ma Khadija said, ‘The advice that we offer to the pregnant mothers and others, is compatible to our culture’. The practice of taking 14 varieties of leafy vegetables at Chaitra-sankranti (Last day of bangla calendar) is an estimate of what we have in our surroundings.

We not only take vegetables for our consumption but also sell some in the market for cash income, said Shefali Begum, a farmer. We learnt from our involvement in Nayakrishi that as farmers women should not lose control over seeds. Previously I had only 4/5 varieties but now I have 10/12 varieties of seeds for growing crops. We do not need to buy seed from the morket. UBINIG has been empowering the small and marginal farmers in the rural areas though training, meeting and workshop.

Daimas have been growing nutritious vegetables in their homestead areas. They have learnt this art production from different meetings and workshops organized through the Daighor. Side by side they have been rearing poultry and livestock. They sell the eggs and milk for cash income.

The Nayakrishi farmers have been making compost and selling for cash income. They have also been growing vegetables in the homestend areas and selling the surplus for cash income. They are now much more aware and are growing diversified crops.



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