Barely a decade ago, Gaibandha’s Abdul Gafur worked as a day labourer and lived from hand to mouth. But the commercial production of Napier Grass changed it all.
Gafur became a millionaire in a matter of a few years.
His success inspired several other farmers of Palashbarhi to follow in his footsteps.
Gafur, now 50, first learned about the high-yielding fodder grass after he bought a cow in 2005.
Speaking to bdnews24.com, he said Palashbarhi Upazila’s livestock doctor Mostofa Kamal inspired him to cultivate the grass.
Scientifically called Pennisetum purpureum, the Napier Grass is also known as ‘Elephant Grass’. It can grow very fast but needs little water.
Gaibandha’s livestock official Abul Hashem said Gafur was the only person in the district to commercially cultivate the grass, which was an ideal food for livestock and was in high demand.
Gafur initially cultivated the grass on a small scale but its success made him confident enough to use more land.
He now owns 10 bighas (1 bigha= 14,400 sq ft) of land and other properties in Sultanpur Brhoiparha village with an estimated value of over Tk 15 million.
He currently cultivates Napier Grass commercially on his 10-bigha plot and earns about Tk 90,000 monthly. The production cost is a mere Tk 20,000, he says.
Two of his sons and five employees assist him in selling the grass daily.
Over 50 other farmers in his village have turned to the grass for a livelihood.
One of them, Masud Mia said he had no idea about the grass.
“I cultivated it on a one-bigha plot this year seeing Gafur. I earn about Tk 9,000 monthly from here,” he said.
Sirajul Islam from the same village said he had cultivated the grass on two bighas last year. He is earning Tk 14,000 per month, selling the grass after feeding his cows.
The cultivation of Napier Grass also changed farmer Abdur Rashid’s fortunes.
Gaibandha’s livestock department was helping farmers cultivating the grass, officials said.
Livestock officer Abul Hashem says they were organising regular seminars on the grass to attract more farmers in the district.