Habibur Rahman of Analertari village, 8-10 km northeast of Gaibandha district town, used to work on other people's lands and always struggled to earn a living for his family with his little income.
Around 7-8 months ago, Habibur met with someone in a neighbouring village who raised pigeons in his house. He found raising pigeons was not costly and involved no major risk. So, he bought two pairs of pigeons for Tk1,000 and started raising pigeons.
"At present, I have 200 pairs of pigeons. In seven months, I have made a profit of Tk1 lakh by selling pigeons. Not only me, everyone else in my family is now involved," said Habibur.
Like Hibibur, a few hundred people in eight villages in Gaibandha, most of whom used to be labourers at other people's land, have been self-reliant through rearing pigeons. From the early morning, you can hear the cooing of pigeons on roofs, porches, sunshades and the trees around the houses in the villages.
Initially, many of the villagers started rearing pigeons as a hobby but later they went for commercial rearing as they found it profitable. Also, many unemployed youths in Gaibandha have been inspired.
There are various indigenous and foreign varieties of pigeons, including jharna shartin, blue shartin, giribaj, yellow mukkhi, red mukkhi, lakkha, rahul, nun, loton, etc in the villages.
Khoka Mia from Analertari village used to work as a labourer in Chattogram and had to stay away from his family. Last year, when he returned to Gaibandha he saw many families become financially solvent by rearing pigeons.
He also wanted to give it a try. So, he started to work under a pigeon farmer at a wage of Tk200 per day to learn about it. After one year, he learnt the basics of pigeon farming and bought four pairs of pigeons to start his journey.
At present, he has a few hundred pairs of pigeons.
"I sell and eat pigeons. People from distant areas come to me to buy pigeons. I have some pigeons that cost Tk7,000-8,000 per pair. I earn Tk12,000-16,000 per month and can meet the family expenditure, including my daughter's education fees," said Khoka Mia.
Another farmer Mojibur Rahman said he turned to pigeon rearing as it is possible to make a good profit investing little.
"Pigeons rarely get sick. I have to spend only on making cages and feeding them, which is reasonable. Every month, I sell pigeons worth Tk20,000-25,000 on average and make a profit of around Tk18,000," said Mojibur.
Gideri Union Parishad Chairman Idu Sarkar said many people have become interested in pigeon farming as they can have a good return by investing a small amount. Government assistance can inspire many others to come to this profession.
Ghagoa Union Parishad Chairman Aminuzzaman Ringku said pigeon farmers will be benefited if the upazila agriculture office arranges training for them. Besides, setting up a specific market for pigeon trade will be helpful for both sellers and buyers.