Abul Hashem, a farmer of village Rampur under Trishal in Mymensingh, used to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides to cultivate vegetables.
But, during this Robi season, in collaboration with the local agriculture office, he has produced cabbages on 26 decimals of land without using any pesticide or chemical fertiliser.
It has cost him Tk8,000 whereas earlier he would need to spend around Tk15,000 for cultivating the crop on the same land.
The local agriculture department has provided him with pest control equipment, seeds and organic fertiliser. He expects to sell cabbages worth around Tk50,000 this season.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is implementing 'The safe crop production project through environment-friendly techniques' in 10 unions of 10 districts as using chemical fertilizers and pesticides is not only harming the environment but also putting people at extreme health risk.
The districts are Dhaka, Jashore, Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Bogura, Cumilla, Pabna, Tangail, Mymensingh and Sherpur.
The government has allotted Tk70 lakh for each union for cultivating Robi crops or winter crops in organic way this year and the next year's Robi seasons.
The money has been allotted for providing the farmers with proper training, seeds, vermicompost and pest control equipment at free of cost.
Under the project that started this Robi season, around 500 farmers of Rampur union in Trishal have got success by using the eco-friendly techniques.
They have produced tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, cucumber, chilli, gourd and some other Robi crops successfully.
Md Habibur Rahman, deputy assistant agriculture officer, said 500 farmers in 25 groups at Trishal are producing various types of Rabi crops on 40.4686 hectares (100 acres) of land applying the organic method.
At Rampur, the crop fields are covered with net and bamboo houses. Farmers work inside the net houses. Sex pheromone traps, yellow paper glue traps, net houses and organic pesticides are being used in the crop fields.
A farmer, Mohammad Hossain Ali, said he had cultivated eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower and bitter gourd in the organic way.
"I used to be worried about insect attacks. Now, I have no such worry. Farmers in the area are also showing interest in the method. They now come to me to know how I use vermicompost and protect the field from insect attack," said Hossain Ali.
Tomato farmer Yusuf Ali said that he used to buy a bottle of pesticide for Tk300 and spray it in the field.
"Now I am using a yellow paper glue trap. The insects get stuck there. Besides, I am using sex pheromone traps to control harmful insects. I have grown tomatoes on about 30 decimals of land, spending Tk14,200. I am expecting around 70 maunds of tomato from my field. Hopefully, I will be able to sell tomatoes worth around Tk85,000," said Yusuf.
The Upazila Agriculture Department is giving training to the farmers about the environment-friendly techniques.
Ruhul Amin, Trishal deputy agricultural officer, said farmers have been trained to use sex pheromone traps and other techniques.
Meanwhile, people concerned say that farmers will lose interest if they do not get fair prices of non-toxic safe vegetables. So emphasis should be given on the market management now.
In this regard, Shoaib Ahmed, Trishal upazila agricultural officer, said, "We have been able to make farmers interested in safe crop production. Now we want to ensure fair prices for the crops. We have talked to people concerned in this regard. We are working on setting up a market for these safe crops along the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Trishal Sadar. At the same time, we are mulling over providing ID cards to those who are producing safe crops so that they can be identified easily."