Commercial farming of chilli has become the mainstay of several villages in Domar upazila.
Without being able to cultivate any crop on their land that was once considered infertile, inhabitants of these villages -- Mela Panga, Gomnati, Ambari, Chilahati, Ketkibari, Horinchara, Satnai and Balapara -- used to live in extreme poverty even a decade ago.
But over the years, their financial situation has been improving after they found success in growing chilli on their land where the lion's share of Nilphamari's chilli is produced now.
It all started after about ten years ago when an elderly man, Bishadu Mamud from Mela Panga village, stumbled upon an accidental discovery that chilli grows very well in the region, said Moklesur Rahman Dulal, a senior citizen in the same village.
Several months after Bishadu's wife threw out a few rotten chillis, which he had bought from a local market for cooking, some chilli plants sprouted in his back yard without much care. Much to his surprise, the plants produced an impressive amount of healthy green chilli.
When Bishadu's neighbours collected some seeds from the plants and their plants also had good yield, cultivation of chilli gradually spread all across the area, Moklesur added.
Locals said that the department of agriculture also extended necessary support to the farmers, enabling them to maximise production of chilli with minimal cost.
Farmer Abed Ali, from Mela Panga village, said he has been making good profit from chilli cultivation on six bighas land for the past four to five years.
He built a brick house and bought more land and a power tiller with the profit, he also said.
Local farmers no longer need to spend money for transportation of their produce to distant markets, as a new trading place, 'Paglima Chilli Market', has been open in the village, beside Dimla-Domar road, said local businessman Delwar Hossain.
Chilli trader Shahidul Islam said traders from different districts including Dhaka, Tangail, Kushtia and Khulna come to the market and buy seven to eight truckloads of chilli every day.