Women Chapter: I am Mayaboti Coach (46). I live in Rangtia village which is under the Nolkura Union of Jhinaigati Upazila of Sherpur Zila. The village is situated on the east-western area of the Indian border.
Name of the Farmer : Mayaboti Coach
Spouse Name : Monendra Coach
Age : 46
Area of Cultivable Land : 1.50 acre
Area : Rangtia, Sherpur
Supporting Organization : Society for Biodiversity Conservation
We the ‘Coach’ people are the indigenous community of this area. Our existence in this area has a long and painful story. In the recent past, the area was in an ecologically balanced forest. The nature defined our diversified and unique life-line with full of natural resources. Our free and eloquent living in this serenity was so coherent. We do have our own life style, culture and religious beliefs, which are closely connected with the forestry.
This relationship with nature is inseparable. When the illegal occupants and Forest Department started to occupy the forest in the name of social forestry, then we began to lose our habitat. We are now living like an outsider in our own area. Our lifestyle was to collect different wild trailers, potatoes, leaves and fruits and to cook, and in the matter of the preservation of this forestry we were the central part. We never thought about our food availability.
We made our own clothes and cultivated the land with our own techniques. Even we were less affected by diseases. But like other areas, the situation of Rangtia village started to change. In the name of modern and eco-friendly agriculture began to decay. We wanted to survive and we began to take part in the competition of crop cultivation. The organic agriculture process vanquished with the confrontation of the chemical and mechanized agriculture. Thus our traditional agriculture couldn’t continue.
However, now I work on my own 1.50 acre land and also work on the lands of other people as an agricultural labor, and by doing this I am continuing the treatment of my sick husband. Still I am not recognized as a farmer by our society in spite of doing agricultural work. My elder son Sushanto Coach (23) has passed Masters in English from Ananda Mohon College of Mymensingh. My second daughter has been dropped out of school after passing class 8 and 3rd daughter is studying in class 5. I don’t want my children to be illiterate as I couldn’t get the chance to study.
Agriculture and day laboring are the source of our livelihood. As my husband is suffering from illness for a long time, so I am managing my family. I am only earnable person of the family who has to bear all the expenses including education cost of my children. I am indebted to the brokers because my produced crops are not enough to manage my expenses of the family consisting of 5 members. I always find me in a dilemma. Poverty becomes a regular issue to my family. I tried to take help from government and don’t know about the agriculture loan of the Bangladesh Krishi (Agriculture) Bank.
In my own land I do all the works related to cultivation. I have to do my household chores too. My daughters help me sometimes. After working in my land, I work as a laborer in the lands of others. When there is no work in the fields. I produce some handicrafts and sell them in the market as well. I grow some vegetables in the yard of my home. The kitchen garden proved beneficial for my family. From my land I get 60 MON (1 MON = 37.32 KG) paddy in a year. After eliminating my production cost I can keep 40 MON paddy for the consumption of my own family.
Every month I have to bear BDT 4,000/- for my elder son, BDT 1,200/- for my daughter and BDT 2,000/- for my husband’s treatment and food cost. I have to depend on agricultural works, handicrafts and the loan of the brokers.
I am now accustomed with this situation and have not faced any social barrier. But I sometimes have to face some embarrassing situations in case of selling handicrafts in market. Many indigenous women now work like me. Many women are involved in making handicrafts side by side the agricultural works like me.
We, the Coach people are about 2,000-2,500 in number who live in two Upazilas of Bangladesh. We are about to lose our own tradition, culture and identity. If the government starts helping us we would be able to exist in the map of the world.