Farming of lentil is increasing gradually across Rajshahi region including its vast Barind tract as it requires less cultivation and irrigation cost compared to many other crops especially paddy.
Sources with the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said farmers are showing more interest in lentil cultivation since they reaped a lucrative market price of the crop in the last couple of years.
The DAE has set a target of producing 79,504 metric tonnes of lentil seeds from 63,980 hectares of land in eight districts of Rajshahi division this season, said Mustafizur Rahman, additional director of DAE.
“We are cultivating lentil over paddy to avoid hassle of sourcing irrigation water,” said Amzad Hossain, a farmer of Pirijpur village under Godagari upazila. He mentioned that acreage of lentil is increasing day by day.
Amzad said: “I have cultivated lentil on two-bigha land this year without spending extra for irrigation. A farmer can get four to five maunds of lentil from per bigha of land. One maund of lentil is now selling at Tk 3,800 to 4,000 in local markets”.
Prof Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, who conducts research on water issues in Barind, said the farmers in high Barind areas of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts have to spend much for irrigation in paddy farming, but lentil cultivation needs less irrigation. Hence, they incur loss in paddy cultivation every year.
“Due to climate change, the groundwater level has gone down. Earlier, water was available in tube-wells at 35 feet deep, but now it has reached 120 to 145 feet. For this reason, the farmers have to spend extra for paddy cultivation, but they can save the cost through cultivation of various less-water consuming crops like lentil, wheat, maize, potato and some other crops,” he said.
DAE Deputy Director Shamsul Haque said the farmers here have cultivated lentil in around 6,500 hectares of land this year but they cultivated over 3,000 hectares in the previous year only in Godagari upazila. As a result of hike in irrigation cost for paddy farming, the farmers are now cultivating different Rabi crops, he added.
He further said the growers here are showing more interest towards lentil cultivation as it does not need much irrigation cost. Besides, they got abundant production in the last few years. Dr Shakhawat Hossain, senior scientific officer of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute in Rajshahi, said prospects of boosting lentil output are bright in the region including the vast Barind tract.
Around 80,000 hectares of land remain fallow for more than three months after the harvest of transplanted Aman paddy every year, reports BSS.
There has been a bright scope of bringing the huge land under the pulse farming for the best uses of those alongside increasing cropping intensity amid the current water-stress condition.
The country has to import huge quantity of pulses especially lentil to meet its domestic demand. Since there is a bright prospect of increasing its acreage, lentil could be produced in larger amount with less production cost and the yield will no doubt lessen pressure on import, the sources said.