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< prev - next > Agriculture Cultivation Fruit Cultivation Pumpkin growing using sandbar cropping (Printable PDF)
This brief describes a way of growing crops on the sandbars, created by river
deposits in Bangladesh, can be done to increase crop production for
marginalised famers.
Every year millions of people are
affected by sudden shifts in river
courses that destroy their crops, farms
and homesteads. The sandbars that
emerge each year as the rivers recede
are not stable enough to support
natural vegetative growth and remain
as barren sand until the rivers rise
These sandbars can be made
productive by growing pumpkins and
other crops using the pit cultivation
approach (by digging small pits and
lining these pits with compost).
Accessing these sandbars for cropping
can help landless families diversify
their incomes, help them overcome
seasonal food shortages and facilitate a
process of asset building alongside
reducing the risks which threaten their
Figure 1: Farmer at the Practical Action project site,
Gaibandha district, Bangladesh. Photo credit: Practical
Action Bangladesh.
What is sandbar cropping?
The areas, which are vulnerable to erosion, consist of the long river banks, charland (relatively
stable places made up from the deposit of sand and soil on the river bed or on top of fertile land
due to seasonal flooding over a period of time) and sandbars. Sandbars are large, temporary,
barren lands made of the sand and silt deposited as the rivers flood and subsides as well as when
they change their course.
In the rivers of the northern areas of Bangladesh, sandbars appear in the dry season (mid-
November to Mid-April) due to a decrease in water flow. These sandbars disappear again in the
wet season (Mid-April to Mid-October). Most of the sandbars remain unutilized as they are mainly
composed of sand; there are thin layers of silt in some areas of the sandbars which are used for
cultivation. There are three broad categories of the sandbars: sandbars with sufficient silt cover
that have sandy loom soil characteristics and retain moisture for longer periods. Sandbars with no
silt cover that are not suitable for production and remain unutilised. Upstream sandbars that
emerge in the North during the dry season are different from the sandbars that emerge
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