Azizar, pioneer of organic farming

In a 2010 interview, Ramnivas Agarwala, owner of the Annapurna organic fertilizer factory in Nilphamari, said: “The soil is the mother. Soil says you give me 10 kg of seeds and a million fertilizer. and 50 heaps of straw. Have you ever wondered where it comes from? It comes from my own body. You do one thing; you keep the paddy and give me the straw. You are my children. I wonder what will happen to you when I (the ground) die. So keep me alive for your own good.” Ramnivas’ philosophical thoughts inspired me.

At the time of the country’s independence, our population was seven crores (70 million), and the number has grown to over 17 crores (170 million) now.

All of our food is produced from the land that we have owned since liberation. It hasn’t increased an inch, but rather decreased over the years.

To produce more crops with less land, we put excessive pressure on the soil by applying chemical fertilizers. In this process, the soil loses its fertility, which leads to a loss of organic quality. Meanwhile, although the diversity of crops has increased, farmers in our country are not aware of the proper use of fertilizers in different types of crops.

During the farmer-policy maker discussion “Krishi Budget, Krishoker Budget” I asked the farmers if they had gone for a soil test. Less than one percent of farmers said they did. Most disappointingly, less than 5% of farmers were aware of soil testing. But these people needed to know that organic matter is the life of the soil.

Five percent organic matter in the soil is needed to maintain crop productivity. Unknowingly, they have used excessive fertilizers and pesticides over the years. This has reduced organic matter in the soil by one percent in most parts of the country, posing a major threat to food production for growing populations.

A few years ago, I followed a program, “Grow-Green”, to encourage farmers to use organic fertilizers. Also, I wanted to highlight the success of those who practice organic farming.

You will probably remember the village of Kaliganjpara in the Mithapukur upazila of Rangpur, which has been known as an “organic village” for decades. I showed their activities on Hridoye Mati O Manush as they were the pioneers of organic farming.

Since then, the use of vermicomposting (a natural process by which earthworms transform waste materials into rigid structures of compost) has begun widely.

Farmer Azizar Rahman, like many others, was involved in the very small-scale vermicompost-making program. He applied the earthworm produced in his factory. Seeing good production of Azizar, many farmers started using earthworms to make natural fertilizers to improve plant growth.

Soon, Azizar realized that producing earthworms could be a good business potential. Vermicompost contains 10 of the 16 essential plant nutrients.

According to research, organic matter is 28.32%, nitrogen 1.57%, phosphorus 1.26%, potassium 2.60%, calcium 2%, magnesium 0.66%, sulfur 0.74%, boron 0.06% and iron 975, manganese 712, zinc 400 and copper. 20 ppm.

Vermicompost can be applied to all types of crops. Usually three to four tons are used per hectare for vegetables and other agricultural products, while five to 10 kg are used for each fruit plant.

Farmers said that with the use of vermicompost, the yield increased by 20-25%. Azizar said earthworms help improve soil health and fertility. Azizar now earns 25,000 Tk (246.13 USD) from his vermicompost plant every month.

Azizar has built a factory on three decimal places of land, spending Tk 2.5 lakh (US$2,461.07), and produces five to six tons of organic fertilizer every month.

The demand for its fertilizer is gradually increasing, and not just in the surrounding areas. A small regional company regularly buys Azizar’s fertilizers and resells them, using their brand and packaging.

Azizar dreams of launching his own organic fertilizer product in the future. Using organic fertilizers not only protects soil health, but it also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

When chemical fertilizers are in short supply globally, moderate use of chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers can ensure good yields. It would also reduce the cost of production.

Along with growing fruits and vegetables, rooftop farming is also growing across the country. In these cases, the use of vermicompost can play a huge role.

A number of companies have now come forward in the production of organic fertilizers and vermicompost. The Azizar factory can be a source of inspiration for many young unemployed people and entrepreneurs.

Also, an employment sector can be created with a small investment that can contribute to sustainable agricultural development.

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