Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Transforming lives out of poverty

To commemorate International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we're bringing to you the story of Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas. His story shows that even indirect involvement in ACIAR projects can lead lives out of poverty. 

Transforming lives

The lives of Bangladeshi Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas and his family have been transformed since he became a machinery contractor. While they once lived in poverty, they now run a successful business and also became land owners.

Sree Shanaton Kumar Biswas
Shanaton Kumar Biswas, Bangladesh
Image CC BY Conor Ashleigh
This came about after Shanaton took the opportunity to purchase a ‘versatile multi-crop planter’ in 2007 that was being introduced to farmers through an ACIAR project.

“The idea was that by helping farmers test and adopt conservation agriculture, they would benefit in many ways, including by reducing labour costs,” said project leader Professor Richard Bell of Murdoch University.

“While many of the farmers are benefitting through conservation agriculture, some of the biggest beneficiaries have been the people who have became machinery contractors,” he said. “It has allowed them to transform their family’s lives from being very poor, to being financially secure.”

From poverty to business

“I used to be a farm labourer.  Then I sold clay pots to make money. We were very poor.  We often didn’t have enough food or good clothes,” said Shanaton.
A versatile multi-crop planter in action
Image CC BY
Ashleigh Conor

“I went to a meeting with researcher Dr Enamul Haque of International Development Enterprise (iDE) about the planters that were being introduced through an ACIAR project.”

“I decided to buy one.  From the start there was a huge demand for the planter from the farmers,” said Shanaton.  “I had to have three drivers and we were working day and night to meet demand. I made 80'000 Taka (approximately A$1000) that year.”

Since then Shanaton has paid back his loan, and has purchased 1.3 hectares of cropland for his family. 

Counting blessings

As a result of his success Shanaton is now a respected person in the community.  His family is well fed. They can pay for their children’s school fees. They have become farmers in their own right.  
Shanaton at the tractor blessing ceremony
Image CC BY Conor Ashleigh
Shanaton and his family are so grateful for the opportunity to turn their lives around, that they had a blessing for their tractor.

"I have given blessings to the gods many times, but they did not change my life.  This planter has changed my life, so I have given blessings to this planter," said Shanaton.
"This machine is helping to improve our lives, because it is the source of our income. So we felt we should satisfy it like a god, so we blessed it so that it can be more productive."

Spreading the word

More than 3,000 small contractors like Shanaton now provide services to about 150,000 farmers. 

“ACIAR has been working to bring service provider/farm machinery contractors in a platform to disseminate new agricultural technologies among the farmers community quickly and effectively,” said Enamul Haque.

“I am very happy to have been involved with Enamul Haque, every time I called him he answered and helped me. I am only a small man, but because of his help I have been able to improve my life,” said Shanaton.

Mandy Gyles, ACIAR Public Affairs Officer

Further information


  1. We hope you will also follow our Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (and food security), through our Twitter tag #GCARD2 , check our blog and our landing page: Follow @GFARforum on Twitter and -- Thanks!

    1. Thanks Nawsheen. Some of our researchers and staff will be attending GCARD2 and we're certainly keeping involved in the social media activities of the event. We recommend our readers to do likewise.

  2. This is a great story! It's so nice to see people embracing new technologies to pull themselves out of poverty. Good on you for helping, ACIAR!!


Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.