Bogura & Rangpur Correspondents
The farmers of early winter potato in Bogura are expecting bumper production due to favourable weather condition and timely supply of necessary agri-inputs.
On the other hand, the potato cultivators of Rangpur agriculture region are apprehensive about the expected yield of their produce owing to severe seed crisis during the peak sowing season. In Bogura, the potato cultivation has turned the fortune wheel of hundreds of grassroots farmers in all the twelve upazilas of the district.
Over 1,300 hectares of land have been brought under the cultivation of early winter potato this season.
Sub-assistance agriculture officer of DAE Farhadur Rahman said early-winter potato farming is profitable.
Each kg of new potato is selling at Tk 50 to Tk 60. Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) provided quality seeds among the growers.
Farmer Yakub Ali of Keut village under Dupchanchia upazila said seeds should be sown in the Bangla months of Bhadra to Ashwin so that the cultivators can harvest the crop from Agrahayan.Cultivators can harvest potato after 80 to 100 days of its cultivation, the farmer added.
To cultivate early-winter potato in a bigha of land, farmers are to spend around Tk 12,000 to Tk 15,000. Both chemical and organic fertilisers are to be used. Sources said most potato farmers in the district are expecting to start harvest from the first week of December.
Rabiul Hasan Papon of Adamdighi upazila said, “I have cultivated early-winter potato in 22 decimals of land spending Tk 6,000 this season.”
The farmer also said, “I am expecting to make over Tk 20,000.”
DAE officials said early-winter potato cultivation does not require frequent irrigation. It saves production cost but ensures a healthy return.
Commercial potato farming is gaining popularity among the farmers in the district due to repeated bumper production and fair market prices, the officials added.
In Rangpur, the potato cultivators alleged that they are facing acute dearth of quality potato seeds presently, on account of its scanty supply by Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC).
A large number of potato growers said that are yet to start sowing seeds in their lands due to paucity of quality seeds.
BADC has supplied 4,673 tonnes of seed against total demand of 1.38 lakh tonnes said Dr Md. Sultanul Alam, deputy director of BADC seed marketing department, Rangpur.
He said they sell 25 per cent of the seeds from their office directly to the peasants and rest through the region’s 751 recommended dealers. ‘A’ grade seed is being sold at Tk 30 per kg and ‘B’ grade seed is available at Tk 28 per kg, the DD added.
The disappointed farmers are now compelled to purchase seeds at exorbitant prices from different markets, sources alleged.
Growers alleged that a syndicate formed by the dealers is responsible for selling BADC potato seeds at higher prices to the farmers by creating artificial crisis.
A good number of farmers of the region who cultivated tobacco last year are preparing their land for potato cultivation this year instead of harmful tobacco.
But they are also facing acute crisis of potato seed, sources said. According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Rangpur official sources some 92,000 hectares of lands are expected to be brought under potato cultivation in five districts under the agriculture region during the current season but the growers are worried of achieving the target due to seed shortage, it is alleged. The districts are Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari and Gaibandha.
Helal Mia, a grower of Tilokpara village at Mithapukur upazila in Rangpur district said he has prepared his two bighas of land for farming potato by collecting seeds from open market at high rate because of insufficient supply by BADC.
Farmers said they prefer BADC seeds because those are disease free and yield is excellent. Some farmers said they have already sown seeds which they bought from market but are now concerned about the productivity of those seeds, they further said.
In this circumstance the farmers of the region urged the authority concerned to take necessary steps so that they can get adequate quality potato seeds during sowing season to enhance production of the crop.