In Bangladesh, the non-profit organisation UBINIG and the agricultural movement Nayakrishi Andolon support and advise tobacco farmers in different districts on suitable alternative crops to tobacco. They started the support in the districts Kushtia, Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban in a first phase between 2009 and 2011, and are continuing the programme ever since.
Nayakrishi Andolon provides training on ecological farming practices, seeds of local variety food crops and facilitates marketing. The ecological farming is based on Nayakrishi Andolon-principles, which include: mixed cropping, no chemical or pesticide use, and own seed production, which reduces the input costs for farmers and helps to regenerate the degraded soil.[2, 3]
Tobacco farmers of the first project phase were thus able to switch to either growing potatoes, maize, lentils and coriander or potatoes, french beans and felon beans as a mixed crop. Once farmers get a stable income from the food crops they do not reverse to tobacco. A study conducted by UBINIG showed that these farmers had over fourty percent more return on their initial investment (1.42 Taka from per Taka investment) in one season as well as far less input costs compared to tobacco farmers.
In this season (2023) more than 50% of the tobacco farmers in one village in Kushtia cultivated food crops, as a result of the support programme.