Snake farming is gaining popularity in the district
Pradeep Chandra Das always wanted to be an entrepreneur and to contribute to society in his home district of Gazipur.
The undergraduate student says he has also always been fascinated by snakes.
In June 2016, Pradeep blended his ambition with his passion and set up a snake farm near his home in Barun village of Kapasia Upazila, using loans from his friends and family.
“I used to catch snakes and take pictures of them before releasing them in the wild,” Pradeep said. “(Then) I learned from the internet that snakes can be a source of income.”
Initially, he kept 30 mostly venomous snakes of various species on his farm.
“I started the farm out of my love for snakes,” he said. “They are not only useful for the environment and agriculture but their venom can also help the economy as an export commodity.”
Pradeep has set up a cooperative with like-minded youths such as Masud Alam, who has followed in his footsteps and started his own snake farm.
“It is possible to earn a lot of money by producing snake venom,” Masud Alam said. “Many people can become self-dependent if the livestock department trains them on snake handling, venom extraction and preservation - and eases the export process.”
However, Pradeep said they are not yet earning money from the farms as the forest department has not given the scheme its approval.
That might be about to change, however, following several visits to Pradeep’s farm by Kapasia livestock officer, Dr Anisur Rahman.
“I am trying to secure the necessary approval,” Dr Rahman said. “Encouraging and patronizing snake farms at the local level can help the farmers be self-reliant and earn from abroad.”
Pradeep’s snake farm has also helped to change the locals’ views on snakes.
“Snakes kill rats on the agricultural land (and) are environmentally-friendly animals,” village farmer Abul Kashem, 55, said.
“We must not kill snakes indiscriminately. I have learned many things and my views have changed after visiting Pradeep’s stall at the Kapasia development fair.”