As the evening prayer call sounded across Narayanganj district in central Bangladesh, Mohammad Masum planted vegetables on his small strip of land next to a new Japanese-backed industrial hub, elevated above the surrounding area to avoid flooding.

When it was set up, the 500-acre "Bangladesh Special Economic Zone" — owned by the governments of Japan and Bangladesh and Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corp. — acquired four-fifths of the land Masum and his siblings had inherited from their father.

Masum said he was paid about 2 million taka ($19,264), which he has mostly spent. "Now I rely on driving an electronic taxi and planting vegetables in my spare time, unlike my belated father who lived on farming entirely," he added.