Boithakata floating market adds spice to life
Dear readers, a few days back I went to the southern part of Bangladesh. A floating market in Pirojpur’s Boithakata, selling diversified agricultural products including seedlings, and even fuels, on boats, specially attracted my attention.
It was a cold winter day and dense fog made the journey a lot more risky than I had thought. Meanwhile, the ferry came late and we finally started our journey.
We reached Dirgha terminal on Bekar canal. From there we took a small boat to reach Gaokhali canal and took another boat to take a ride on Boithakata floating market.
Finally, at 7:00am in the morning, we reached Boithakata, a unique representation of riverine Bangladesh. Here, the livelihood is deeply connected with the river.
As we go by the boat, we are discovering the farming and crop diversity of this area. From a far away village, a farmer’s boat is heading towards Boithakata floating market.
“What is in there?”
“Are these hand-fried?”
Another farmer was crossing my boat. Had a little chat with him as well.
“Hello brother, what are you taking to the market?”
Looking at the water body with its banks covered with water hyacinth, I felt like going back in time, to an age where rivers were the heart of life and livelihood, serving as people’s most effective communication medium.
High and low tides, directly affecting the water level of rivers and canals, have a profound impact on the lives of people in the area.
“Are these seeds of chilli, brother?” I asked another farmer.
“Yes, they are,” he replied.
“Since when are you selling goods in this floating market?” I asked again.
“Since my childhood and now I’m 75 years old,” he replied.
“An age-old tradition, truly. I see you’re taking eggplants too,” I said.
“Yes, I also take eggplant seeds for sale,” he replied.
“That’s quite interesting. So not only crops, fruits and vegetables are sold, even the seeds,” I said.
“Yes, it’s completely a unique and traditional agricultural market on the water,” the farmer replied.
However, due to the cold and foggy weather, farmers are getting a little less price than expected.
Since 1962, Boithakata floating market is going on. During the Liberation War of 1971, many people came here as the Pakistani army launched attacks at the central zones. Those people started business at this market and helped to expand it gradually.
This floating market doesn’t have any structure. Flocks of boats arrive on the river, and the market buzzes with buyers and sellers. By noon, the sale stops and all the boats leave, giving back the river area its usual look. However, maintaining routine, every Saturday and Tuesday, the market starts again here at this same place and time.
Our southern part is filled with nature and life. River here is the centre of all diversity. There are traditional river-centred trade measures in many countries around the world. Australia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, even Myanmar, are running booming tourist trade focusing on river-based markets. Very recently, we had gone to a bordering water village of China’s commercial city Shanghai. The thousand-year-old floating village is now a highly attractive place.
I would call out to the government and private institutions to turn the traditional floating market of the south into an agro-tourism aspect.
Dear readers, you all know that some parts of Bangladesh have been recognized as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems for its traditional farming system in 2015 by FAO and GIAHS steering committee. The reason behind it was Bangladeshi farmers had developed unique hydroponics system in which plants can grow on water on floating organic bed of water hyacinth, algae and other plant residues.
Floating market is a traditional market system that utilizes the farmers’ resources and skill to sell agricultural goods almost all the year round providing numerous social, economic, agricultural and ecological benefits to the local population. Let our rivers and canals be the true destination of culture, productivity and prosperity.