The Ministry of Agriculture is working on a project cultivating vegetables on fallow land to supplement food stocks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project, costing Tk174 crore, aims to create at least two home-adjacent model gardens in every Bangladeshi village. The gardeners will be provided with vegetable, spice and fruit seeds free of cost and field-level agriculture officials will supervise it.
The move of the ministry comes as the prime minister ordered for no land to be left uncultivated so that the country does not face any food shortages due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from food sufficiency, the project emphasises the importance of ensuring nutritious food supplies to kitchens. The model gardens are expected to encourage others to grow vegetables on the premises of their residences.
Sources at the agriculture ministry said the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) will supervise the project by its field-level officials.
Currently, the ministry is verifying the proposal sent by the DAE. The proposed project cost was Tk500 crore which was trimmed to Tk174 crore later.
The country has around 87,000 villages. The DAE will first select two families at each village. Then, the families will decide how they can cultivate fruits, vegetables and spices on the fallows altogether.
"Food security will be crucial in upcoming days and we are preparing beforehand," agriculture ministry Secretary Mohammad Nasiruzzaman told The Business Standard.
Apart from maintaining food security, the secretary said the ministry is also emphasising the importance of a nutritious food supply. He hinted this Family Vegetable and Nutrition Garden project will be implemented soon.
According to the Rural Statistics 2018 published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, fallow land across the country currently amounts to 11 crore acres of land – nearly five percent of the arable areas of the country. The government believes cultivating the fallow land will minimise the pandemic-led food security challenges.