Farmers’ sharing session on Safe Food Issues Prior to Declaration of Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila was organized at UBINIG center, Bishnupur, Delduar Upazila, Tangail district on 6 September, 2015. The event was organized by UBINIG on behalf of Bangladesh Food Safety Network (BFSN) with the support from Food and Agriculture Organization – Food Safety Project (FAO –FSP). A total of 36 Nayakrishi farmers from 20 villages of seven Unions of Delduar Upazila participated in the training workshop. Among the farmers there were 18 female farmers and 18 male farmers. The representatives from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-FSP); Chairman of Delduar Upazila Parishod and UBINIG representatives also participated in the event. The training workshop was moderated by Jahangir Alam Jony, member, central management committee, UBINIG. Training program was started with formal introduction of the participants.
Farida Akhter, Executive Director, UBINIG offered the address of welcome. She mentioned that some farmers were practicing Nayakrishi for more than 5 years and others were practicing it for more than 10 years. In this context 24 farmers mentioned that they were involved with Nayakrishi for more than 10 years and 12 farmers were there involved with Nayakrishi for more than five years. She further informed that there were four farmers involved with seed conservation and management of seed huts. The farmers have been growing crops and maintaining seeds. Farmer Rina Begum has been maintaining 40 local rice varieties. In a previous meeting S M Ferdouse Ahmed, Upazila chairman had proposed for declaring “Delduar as a safe Food Upazila.” FAO-Food Safety Project highly appreciated the Upazila Chairman for his innovative idea and gladly accepted the proposal for supporting the declaration of “Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila.” This is a great Endeavour to make “Delduar, a safe food Upazila.” However, it has lot of challenges. Not only the Nayakrishi farmers but also all other farmers will have to be oriented to production of safe food. Hygienic practices from field to table have to be ensured. Hands must be properly cleaned before taking food. Foods served by vendors on the street must be served in clean condition. Water for food preparation and drinking should also be free from impurities. There are legal instruments in place for ensuring safe food for the people. There are provisions of penal action for violation of law regarding food trade and adulteration of food. There is punishment ranging from 3-10 years of impressments for offence of food adulteration. Finally she asked the farmers whether the proposition for declaring Delduar as a safe food upazila was promising or not? The farmers responded positively in loud voice and expressed their commitment for declaration of Delduar as a safe food upazila.
Dr.M.A. Sobhan, Consultant, UBINIG mentioned that Bangladesh Food Safety Network including Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB), UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative), SHISHUK, B-Safe Foundation and Hunger Free World have been working under the patronization of the FAO - Food Safety Project for addressing some of the key issues of food safety in Bangladesh. Here, we are now engaged in planning to declare “Delduar as a safe food Upazila.” Food safety is a burning global issue. We are lucky to work for ensuring safe food for the people of Delduar Upazila. If we are successful in our mission for offering safe and nutritious food for all the people in Delduar upazila, it will be our great contribution to the people. In course of time “Delduar Safe Food Upazila” model will be extended nationally and globally. We need to establish a protocol of safe food supply from field to plate. We are happy to mention that the Nayakrishi farmers have not only ensured safe food for them alone but also have been sharing the same with others. Now it is our task to extend the principles of Nayakrishi among the Non-nayakrishi farmers. We hope that all the farmers in Delduar Upazila will practice Nayakrishi and create an environment of safe food and ensure safe food for all.
S M Ferdouse Ahmed, Chairman Delduar Upazila Parishod mentioned that those farmers who have been practicing Nayakrishi for more than ten years deserve appreciation. It is pleasing to mention that Farhad Mazhar has been leading the Nayakrishi Andolon. Today Delduar upazila is self contained in food. Before ten years it was not so. It was suffering from chronic food shortage. Slowly it has adopted Nayakrishi and became self sufficient in food. The credit goes to Nayakrishi for ensuring food sovereignty of the people in Delduar Upazila. Let us put our two hands together and congratulate Nayakrishi farmers. We shall not remain complacent in declaring Delduar a safe food upazila. We shall be relentlessly working for maintaining food safety in a holistic approach. I earnestly request the concerned departments of the Government, other organizations and the farmers to work hand in hand for ensuring safe food for the people. We commit to establish Delduar as a model of food safety. I am confident Nayakrishi farmers, UBINIG, upazila parishad and all other concerned will work together to make Delduar a model of safe food. I hope this model will work as a path finder of food safety for Bangladesh and the globe at large.
Dr. Rokeya Khanam, National Advisor, FAO Food Safety Project mentioned that this project has been supporting the Bangladesh Food Safety Network for implementing activities at the grass root level on food safety. These included creating public awareness for safe food. The activities, so far implemented, include school campaign on safe food, district level meeting, divisional meeting, training of journalists; observance of the Global Hand Washing Day, highlighting the importance of food safety and meeting the food safety requirements. Now, we are in a discussion for declaring Delduar as a safe food upazila. This is a significant step forward for ensuring safe food for the people. The success of Delduar upazila for offering safe food for its people as well as sharing safe food with others would be an innovative model. I wish the success of Nayakrishi farmers, Delduar Upazila Parishad and UBINIG.
Dr. Sridhar Dharmapuri, Food Safety Officer, FAO Food Safety Project mentioned that the Food Safety Project is aimed at food safety and quality control of the food system and increasing capacity for dealing food safety issues. I am happy to see that the Delduar Upazila Parishad, Nayakrishi farmers and UBINIG are jointly going to declare “Delduar, a safe Food Upazila”. This is an example of significant success. I wish best performance of your declaration.
Dr. John Ryder, Chief Technical Advisor, FAO Food Safety Project expressed words of appreciation for Nayakrishi (new agriculture), biodiversity based ecological agricultural system of food production, minimizing the use of chemical fertilizer and restraining the use of pesticides. He sadid we shall help promoting the environment friendly farming system of Nayakrishi which uphold human dignity and community food system that ensures fair access to healthy food for farmers and all other people in the society. He appreciate the Upazila Parishad for coming forward to coordinate with the Nayakrishi farmers and UBINIG working for ensuring safe food for the people of Delduar Upazila. The maintenance of local genetic resources, preservation of land and production practices is very important in order for ensuring the supply of safe food for today and tomorrow. We consider that an environment friendly food production system is of prime importance for a healthy society. So we invite all organizations, institutions and government departments, through policy decision and participation for building a local food system. Let us work together to establish “Delduar a safe food uparila” on a solid foundation. There is need for involvement of the members and chairmen of all the union councils for declaration of Delduar as a safe food upazila. Food items produced in Delduar will have prestigious name and fame. I will be happy when we will see the safe food in Dhaka supplied from the Delduar upazila as a brand of “Delduar Safe food”. Delduar Upazila Parishad will coordinate the production and distribution of safe food. He wish all success for “Delduar as a safe food upazila.”
Farhad Mazhar, Managing Director, UBINIG mentioned that the Nayakrishi farmers were growing foods for themselves and for selling in the market as well. He asked a question to the farmers, what is the difference between food produced by Nayakrishi farmers and safe food? The farmers replied both are same. In reply he mentioned it is not correct. This is because you are Nayakrishi farmers you produce food in Nayakrishi practice. Nayakrishi means safe. But the present terminology of safe food is a new concept. The scientists or the agents of company accept certain amount of pesticides in food within safe limit. Today it is difficult to get safe food. On the contrary food produced in Nayakrishi means food free from poison, Nayakrishi means safe, local variety, mixed crop, crop rotation and food production with organic manure. Nothing from outside is allowed in food. We do not consider the standard given by the Government is safe. The food Department and other Government agencies must be made aware of food safety in true sense. This is your advantage that you are following Nayakrishi for food production. That gives you the priority for up scaling. You will live healthy, wealthy and you will send your children to school. That is what Nayakrishi desires. Nayakrishi means safe, but safe food may not be safe. Nayakrishi farmers, grow Chamara, Abchaya, Digha varieties of rice. These have divine attributes of yield and quality matching local agro-ecological condition. So are the other genetic resources including plants, animals, birds, fish and diverse biotypes.
Ruposhi Begum, a farmer from Mausha Kathalia expressed words of appreciation for S. M. Ferdous, Upazila Chairman, Delduar, for his proposal for declaring” Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila. Nayakrishi farmers have been growing safe food in their built in system of agriculture with proper understanding of the need for safe food. We the Nayakrishi farmers and the Upazila Parishad are united in our mission for ensuring safe food for the people of Delduar Upazila.
Status of different crops grown in Delduar Upazila: Experience of Nayakrishi farmers
Mainuddin, Mahmudpur village presented the report on common vegetables grown in Delduar upazila. The main vegetables included amaranths, Indian spinach, ash gourd, sweet gourd, sponge gourd, common bean, red amaranth, water gourd, snake gourd, okra, brinjal, potato, radish, cucumber, and chili pepper. These are grown without any chemicals. There is no need for application of any chemical fertilizer for growing the local varieties of vegetables. We eat these vegetables and sell the surplus. Many customers call me over cell phone for buying my vegetables. There is a Seed Hut in my home. The Nayakrishi farmers take seed from the Seed Hut for growing crops.
Shahadat Hosain of Tatosree village, union: Lauhati presented report on oil seeds and pulses. In the charland areas the pulses including grass pea, lentil and black gram and oil seeds like mustard, sesame and rai are grown. These crops do not need any chemical fertilizer or pesticides. We know that the food free from poisonous chemicals is very essential for maintaining good health. We apply organic manure for growing crops. We apply jute seed powder in case there is pest attack on crops. We eat safe food for maintaining good health.
Hayat Ali, Nallapara village gave an oral presentation on varieties of spices. Onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, anise, etc are grown with compost. We eat these spices and sell the surplus in the market. We do not apply any chemical fertilizer and pesticides for growing crops. This is because we know chemicals are hazardous for beneficial organisms like earthworms and frogs.
Rina Begum of Mahmudpur village presented a report on local fruits. Jackfruit, black berry, guava, zuzube, woodapple, palmyra palm, pomelo, mango, banana, etc are our favorite fruits. Stony banana (bichi kola) is grown in diverse habitats. It bears fruits in any season. We grow varieties of fruit bearing plants in our homestead area. We eat the fruits and sell the remaining quantity in the market. We also share fruits with relatives and neighbors.
Alam Khan, a farmer from Shalpanaru village reported the status of local fish variability. I have not seen my father and grandfather using chemical fertilizer and pesticides. Modernization of agriculture introduced those poisons. However, we in Nayakrishi do not apply any poison. In Nayakrishi villages we have fish in open water like beels, canals, river and also in the ponds. We have puti, chela, gulsha, baila, taki, faka, noora, mirka, kahila, chapila, pyali, shoil, etc in the ponds, beels and rivers. We catch fish from river and beel. We like to maintain fish variability. We want to make “Delduar a safe food upazila.”
Ruposhi Begum, Moushakatahia village shared her experiences with uncultivated vegetables. We have varieties of uncultivated vegetables in the uncultivated spaces in the homestead areas and other places. We have plenty of uncultivated vegetables. We just start cooking rice and go around the homestead areas and collect vegetables like henchi,kolmi helencha and cook soon after finishing rice cooking. Some uncultivated vegetables like dhekisak, gimasak, baita, kochusak, thankuni, telakncha, dandokolosh are available round the year. These are nutritious and safe for our health.
Shamsul Huque, a farmer from Mushuria village, Elashin union mentioned, “we grown ash gourd, Indian spinach, water gourd, sponge gourd, common bean, sweet gourd, stony banana in the homestead and other open spaces around the home. These offer safe food for us. We do not apply any chemical fertilizer and pesticides. We grow most of our food. We eat safe food.”
The participating farmers were divided into five groups.
The topics for discussion included:
- List of vegetables grown as safe food
- How to maintain food safety upto market?
- What to do to declare “Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila”?
Group No. 1: Vegetables:
Number of participants in the group: 6
Name of participants: Md. Mainuddin (Moderater), Shamsul Huque, A. Rashid, Md. Badal, Md. Sonamuddin, Jahanara Begum
List of vegetables available round the year: (1) Stem amaranth, (2) pinach (red), (3) Indian spinach (green), (4) red amaranth, (5) Plantain, (6) Papaya, (7) Sweet gourd, (8) Brinjal and (9) Dudhkochu (arum). These vegetables are grown with organic manure. Vegetables available in Kartik (October - November): Radish, potato, common bean, water gourd, sweet gourd, ash gourd, bitter gourd, string bean, okra, spinach, elephant foot yam, ridge gourd (sat potol), shaheb alu, carrot, cucumber, arum, etc. These are grown with compost and without any pesticide. These are safe vegetables.
Activities to be done to declare Delduar as a safe food upazila:
- Farmers’ representative to be selected in each village.
- Markets to be created for selling Nayakrishi products.
- Direct purchase of vegetables from Nayakrishi farmers.
- Nayakrishi farmers to be oriented in each of the villages of the eight unions.
- Nayakrishi markets to be created in each village of the eight unions.
Group 2, Pulses and Oil seeds:
Number of participants in the group: 6
Name of the participants: Hayat Ali, (2) Shahadat Ali, (3) Alam Khan, (4) Samiton Begum, (5) Mariam Begum, (6) Parul Begum.
Alam Khan (moderator) mentioned that lentil was sown in kartik (October - November), Grass pea and black gram were sown in Ashin (September - October). The farmers maintain seeds of mustard and rai on farm. Organic manure is used for crop production. The farmers consume the farm produce and sell the surplus in the market. These are safe food. Peoples prefer Nayakrishi products as safe food.
Activities to be done to declare Delduar as a safe food upazila:
- Out lets to be established for selling Nayakrishi products (safe food).
- Committees to be formed for safe food.
Group 3. Spices:
Number of participants: 6
Name of the participants: (1) A Rashid Mia, (2) Md. Kasim Uddin, (3) Md. Habilo Mia, (4) Jahanara Begum, (5) Jarina Begum and (6) Shahnaz Begum.
Spices including onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander, anise, black cumin, etc are grown with organic manure. Most of the spices are grown in mixed culture.
Activities to be implemented before declaing “Delduar as a safe food upazila:
- Safe Food Act 2013 should be implemented.
- Attempt of adulteration and contamination should be resisted under legal provision.
- Upazila Parishad will coordinate for production and marketing of Nayakrishi products.
Group 4. Fruits
Number of participants: 7
Name of the participants: (1) Md. Khorshed Alam (moderator), (2) Md. Abdul Kader, (3) Md. Jinnat Ali, (4) Md. A. Mannan Mia, (5) Rina Begum, (6) Md. Tara Mia and (7) Suria Begum.
Saplings of fruit bearing species of plants are planted in the rainy reason. The main fruits include mango, jack bruit, guava, black berry, litchi, banana, plum, pomelo, star fruit, Indian olive, tamarind, palmyra palm, annona, papaya, etc.
Activities to be implemented for declaring Delduar as a safe food upazila:
- Monitoring for preventing the use of chemicals for ripening, preserving, processing, contaminating, and adulterant of fruits and fruit based items.
- Ensure the implementation of legal action against corrupt traders and others adopting unfair means.
- Control sale and purchase of chemicals used for undesired applications in fruits.
Group 5. Uncultivated vegetables:
Number of participants: 5
Name of the participants: (1) Md. Osman Ghani (moderator), (2) Ruposhi Begum, (3) A. Jalil Mia, (4) Kamla Begum, and (5) Rabeya Begum.
Telakucha sak, Helencha sak and kochu sak are available round the year. However, these are more available in the rainy season. Pipul sak, kalmi sak, dheki sak, kasturi sak, thankuni are mainly available in the rainy season. Baita sak and atapata sak are available during Kartik/Agrahyan (october-December). Gima sak, pipul sak, thankuni are abundantly available during chaitra-Jaista (March - June). Guma sak and vul koia are available in the winter season (December - February). No chemicals are used in the uncultivated vegetable.
Activities to be implemented for declaring Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila:
- Farmers’ representative will be selected from each village.
- Publicity shall be made in each union though the respective chairman.
- Public awareness will be created in each village in favor of safe food.
General Recommendations on behalf of the farmers:
Increase the number of Nayakrishi farmers, (2) Motivate all farmers for Nayakrishi, (3) Involve the Local Government, (4) Involve the Department of Agriculture Extension, (5) Motivate the rich farmers, (6) Distribute leaflet/poster in hat/bazar, (7) Organize milking/discussion in hat/bazar, (8) Organize safe food events in schools and colleges, (9) Organize safe food events in hospitals, health and family planning departments, (10) Arrange for discussion on safe food in the mosque through the immams specially on Friday, Juma prayer, (11) Publicity against food adulteration (12) Village level meeting/training/discussion sessions, (13) Song/street drama, (14) Publicity against adulteration, (15) Organize mobile court, against food adulteration, (16) Cancel the license of formalin and such other poisonous chemicals, (17) Prohibit fruit ripening with chemicals (18) Establish Nayakrishi sales out let at Kaoranbazar, Dhaka, (19) Buying and selling should be done through farmers, (20) Immature fruits should not be harvested, (21) Communicate the information for declaration of Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila to the Ministry of Agriculture, (12) Discuss the declaration of “Delduar as a Safe Food Upazila” in the regular meeting of the Upazila Parishad, (23) Arrange for publicity in the media, (24) Involve the Member of Parliament, Delduar in this event, (25) Invite the members and Chairman of eight union councils in the next meeting for declaration “Delduar as a Safe Food Upazil