Mostofa Giasuddin Elias put it all on the line in 1996 when he decided to move to Botswana to work at his brother-in-law's farm in the small town of Lobatse.
Prior to this, he had no knowledge of agriculture and had never worked in a farm. Today, however, 54-year-old Elias owns a farm set up on 10 hectares of land on the outskirts of Gaborone, the capital of the African country.
Although, in the beginning, it was a challenge for the amateur farmer to grow crops on semi-arid land accompanied by harsh weather and frequent water shortages, his hard work and determination eventually prevailed.
Hailing from Agoiljhara upazila of Barishal, Elias recently received 11 awards – including two first prizes – at the National Agricultural Show in Botswana, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, for producing superior quality cauliflower and radish.
Elias has also received other awards and accolades at district-level exhibitions.
"The locals here are very happy to see me employing 15 people from their community in my farm," Elias said. "Unlike Bangladesh, farming brings social respect, dignity and money in Botswana. I am very happy for getting recognised for my hard work."
This award-winning agricultural entrepreneur harvests around a tonne of vegetables every day, and supplies them to numerous supermarkets in the capital. This brings him $500 per day – 150 times the minimum monthly wage of $100 in Botswana.
Elias grows different kinds of vegetables during two seasons. In winter, he cultivates cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beetroot, spinach, radish and spring onion. In summer, he opts to cultivate different varieties of beans, butternut and chili.
With his recent success in the industry, Elias now plans to venture beyond vegetables and begin fish farming. In the landlocked country of Botswana, fish farming is very rare due to the shortage of water, except in some areas in the northern parts of the country.
However, Elias will not let that stop him as he has already dug an 8,000-square metre pond in his farm and will begin farming fish once he is able to harvest sufficient rain water.
Based on his determination to follow through on his goals, the next time we hear from Botswana, Elias might have another success story to tell and more awards to show off.