Fighting salinity with mungbean

The nodules of the BARI-6 mungbean plants improve nitrogen levels in the soil and help improve the soil fertility for crop rotation.

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““Cultivating BARI-6 variety of mungbean was a great learning experience for us, not only did we get double production this year; we regained the hope of cultivating other cereal crops in the same land,” said Basudev Mondol, a mungbean farmer of Monpura, Bhola




Telling Our Story

US. Agency for International Development

Washington, DC 20523-1000

http://stories.usadi.gov

The high content of salinity in soil poses a huge challenge for any farmer in the coastal region of Bangladesh. It affects crops at critical stages of growth, reducing yield and occasionally causing a total loss of a season of agricultural production. For Basudev Mondol, a 30 year old farmer from Sitakundo village, soil salinity was causing repeated detrimental damage to his yield and livelihood. Sitakundo is located in Monpura Upazila under Bhola, a remote southern district that is separated from the mainland and surrounded by the Bay of Bengal. In this region, soil salinity is very high, and farmers like Basudev must be calculative in their selection of crops, choosing only the crops that can survive the harsh soil conditions.
Despite his efforts in crop selection, Basudev found his subsistence continually in jeapordy as he was frequently losing an entire season’s yield due to the high content of salinity in soil. Last year, he tried to grow only a traditional variety of mungbean local to the region in his 32 decimals of land, but still his yield was lower than planned. Basudev was at a loss for how to improve his yields in these conditions when Optimum Solutions and Services Limited (OSS), a USAID-Agricultural Value Chains (AVC) partner, approached him with an offer to test the BARI-6 variety of mungbeans, as the variety showed better growth at higher salinity levels. The nodules of the BARI-6 mungbean plants improve nitrogen levels in the soil and help improve the soil fertility for crop rotation. The offer also included training on improved cultivation techniques and post-harvest management to reduce Basudev’s losses due to the harsh soil conditions. Basudev found this offer lucrative as it not only included trainings, it also ensured better input sources and assured forward market linkages for eventual selling of his yield. Basudev applied new techniques from the trainings. For example, instead of broadcast sowing of seeds, he applied his knowledge in line sowing on raised beds. The new seed sowing technique lowered his overall production cost as he did not require as high of a quantity of seeds to achieve the same yield. He produced a record 400 kgs of mungbean in his 32 decimals of land using only 4 kgs of BARI-6 seeds, while in the same area of land he produced 200 kgs of mungbean last year using 8 kgs of seeds. He also learned about the usage and dosage of fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide, and importance of irrigation and weeding.
“Cultivating BARI-6 variety of mungbean was a great learning experience for us, not only did we get double production this year; we regained the hope of cultivating other cereal crops in the same land,” said Basudev who made good profits out of selling mungbeans this year. “I sold all my produce in bulk to a local whole-seller and made a profit of about BDT 10,000 excluding all expenditure from this small land,” he added. As part of their contract with AVC to improve production and farming practices in the mungbean value chain, OSS selected, grouped, and trained 7,000 mungbean farmers in Monpura on improved production technology and postharvest management. OSS created 30 learning plots with 30 farmers with an average of 30 decimals of lands each. While the average yield among these farmers last year was 1.9kg per decimal, it was 22 percent higher this year with 2.3kg per decimal of land. The yield in the learning plots was even tripled in some plots with an average of 5.5kg per decimal of land. Basudev expressed his gratitude to OSS and AVC for providing the opportunity to learn new production techniques and for introducing an improved variety of mungbean seeds to them that can survive and even thrive in the high-salinity soil conditions in Bhola. His neighboring farmers were also satisfied with the improved variety of seeds. OSS in this case linked the farmers with five input sellers who collected this variety of seeds from ACI before the season started. Farmers in the region are not only better protected against yield losses due to soil conditions, but have also found ways to reduce input costs and improve production output, increasing farmer profits and incomes.