Written July 2011
Bangladeshi Mosharraf Hossain, previously a retired assistant accounting officer at Daulatpur Jute Mills in Khulna, is now a farmer and a urea fertilizer briquettes (Guti) producer/dealer. At 57, Hossain has found retirement to be very interesting and rewarding.
“I retired in 2002 and was concerned that I would be too idle, but things are very different now. I have a fertilizer shop in Uzirpur, Barisal, where I produce Guti fertilizer. I also grow rice, using the new fertilizer deep placement [FDP] technology,” Hossain said.
Hossain formerly cultivated rice in the traditional method, but he was always looking for ways to improve his crop. He heard about the Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by IFDC. He met IFDC’s field officer and learned about the benefits of Guti fertilizer and FDP technology. Because of his affiliation with the AAPI project, he was offered a Guti-producing briquette machine at an 80 percent discount because of a price subsidy. He and his business partner, Salim Sardar, were also able to purchase the fertilizer retail dealership for the initial capital of US $4,166.
Because people in his area are learning about the benefits of the FDP technology, the demand was quite high for Guti urea during the 2009/10 Boro season. “I produced and sold 220 metric tons (mt) of Guti urea. The net profit was around Tk 1 lakh [$2,083],” he said, adding that farmers mainly use Guti fertilizer during the dry season. During the 2010 Aus season, he produced and sold only six mt of Guti, but he more than made up for that with sales of 230 mt during the 2010/11 Boro season. He also produced and sold three mt of a mixture of diammonium phosphate, muriate of potash and urea, better known as NPK.
Hossain used Guti fertilizer on 150 decimals (one and one-half acres) of land. He leased 100 decimals and he owned the rest. His total production was 90 maunds (37.4 kilograms). “Previously my rice yield during the Boro season was about eight maunds for each 20 decimals, but now it is over 12 maunds because of Guti fertilizer use,” Hossain said.
Hossain believes his success as a businessman is because he sets an example by using the Guti briquettes in his own field with excellent results. He occasionally invites farmers to his shop for tea and explains the benefits of Guti fertilizer. He organized such a meeting just before the last Boro season. The profit from Guti fertilizer sales was over Tk 1 lakh ($2,083) during the last Boro season. The production costs were also reduced. “Initially, it took six laborers to deep place the briquettes, but now four are enough,” Hossain said.
In his retirement, Hossain has provided jobs for four people and local farmers are producing more rice using Guti fertilizer bought at his shop. “IFDC’s AAPI project has changed my life!”
Sardar, Hossain’s business partner, previously worked full-time as an electrician, but now has a better income. “During peak season of Boro or Aman, I work in the fertilizer shop and during the lean season, I work as an electrician. I now have a job all year. This has increased my income and I can provide more for my family,” said 45-year-old Sardar. “My dream to better educate my three children is coming true.”