GAIBANDHA, Oct 9: Activity of SUSTAIN (Scaling Up Sweet-Potato Through Agriculture and Nutrition) project has begun in the district very recently, bringing about 2500 char farmers under it.
BRAC, a leading NGO in the country, would implement the project at field level, at Fulchhari and Sadar upazilas of the district with the financial support of UKAID, office sources said.
International Potato Centre (CIP), Bangladesh, would provide all sorts of technological support to the growers to make the project a grand success in the district, sources said.
The objective of the project is to cultivate Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) at farmers' level, and to meet nutritional demand and improve their economic condition.
To ensure food security of the country through boosting production of OFSP in sandy char lands of the Brahmaputra River basin under the upazilas is another objective of the project.
Sector Leader of the project Dr. EHM Shofiur Rahaman, said sweet potato is one of the most nutrient-rich crops in the world. OFSP is an important source of beta-carotene, carbohydrates, fibre and a cheaper source of vitamin A for both children and breast-feeding mothers who are mostly vulnerable to malnutrition, he also said.
"Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness and premature death among the children under five," he said adding that taking 250 grams OFSP daily could save the children from blindness and premature death.
Field Coordinator of the project Enamul said primarily vast tract of char lands owned by around 2500 farmers of the upazilas would be brought under the pilot project this season.
Vine, agro-inputs and other technological support would be provided to the farmers to ensure success in the cultivation of salinity-, drought- and heat-resistant food crops here, he also said.
Regional Manager of Brac Nazim Uddin said under the project, training sessions had already been completed at the initiative of CIP at SKS Inn under Radhakrishnapur of Sadar upazila on October 6.
Deputy Director of DAE AKM Ruhul Amin said they welcomed the officials concerned for introducing the project at Fulchhari and Sadar upazilas.
All types of help, assistance and technological support would be provided from the concerned department to attain the cherished goals of the project, he assured.