What is courage?
Courage is the little voice that says at the end of the day, I will try again tomorrow
This is what courage is for me. Not the absence of fear, but to be able to move forward, despite the fear. To fall nine times and to get up for the tenth time, that’s courage. And this is what I saw in the farmers that we visited last week during my field trip to the North West of Bangladesh. It takes an enormous amount of courage to incur recurrent losses in crop and to still go on plowing and harvesting, hoping that this year will be different.
One of the project that we visited has organized these farmers into groups. They have been taught some business skills, production scheduling, when to plant, what to plant, how many farmers will plant a particular crop. By scheduling who produces what and when, they now have better control over the procurement of their inputs, e.g. seeds, fertilizer, pesticide. By scheduling how many farmers will plant a particular kind of crop (usually horticultural item i.e. vegetable) and by spacing out harvest times, they have learnt to avoid the pitfall of flooding local markets with a lot of produce all at the same time. By developing market linkages both for inputs and outputs, they now have better price control over both their buying and selling.
Another group of farmers have gotten together and developed Collection Point. Thus enabling the villagers all around to bring their produce at the same place. The aggregation of produce has brought in more buyers and thus ultimately better prices for each individual farmer who uses the collection point.
Most of these farmers have been trained in the use of organic fertilizer and natural pesticide. According to most of the farmers we spoke to, their costs reduced and their production increased. They were rather vocal about the fact that this year they have not made a loss in selling their harvests due to a combination of factors like production scheduling, better market linkage, reducing costs etc. At this rate apparently most of them calculate that they will be able to get out of debt in another 2-3 years and that is very encouraging news.
In the faces of these farmers, I see courage. It is farmers like them who are keeping city folks like me fed. Their toil, their sweat, their hard work is what keeps the wheels running. To be able to do something for them, to help them get to the next level, the next improvement, the latest technological innovation in agriculture – to be able to give something back by working with them, for them, it’s an honor. It’s an honor and a challenge that I look forward to for the upcoming years.
I know I had disappeared for the past ten days or so, but this trip and its subsequent follow-ups took up a lot of my time and I don’t want to let my heroes down 🙂
- Farmer Crop-Diversity Hurdles Include Lack of Variety, INRA Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- A herbal remedy for the ‘bug crisis’ (timesofisrael.com)
- Hope’s Partners – Courage (hope4usnow.wordpress.com)