Category Archives: Agriculture/Agricultural Security/Agro-Products/Cash Crops

Coriander wafts flavour in Chapainawabganj

Coriander wafts flavour in Chapainawabganj
Rabiul Hasan Dollar, Chapainawabganj

Coriander cultivation is gaining popularity among farmers in Chapainawabganj as it has become profitable because of the low costs of production and easy farming methods.

Farmers in the district are now cultivating coriander leaf commercially and earning handsome amounts of money.

They have been marketing for the last five years coriander of over 500 maunds a day to different parts of the country, especially to Dhaka, after meeting local demand in the peak season.

The herb was earlier cultivated only on small plots around homes for family consumption and sale at local markets.

Now it is grown on a large scale in the shoal areas of Shibganj and Sadar upazilas.

Sundarpur, Shahjahanpur, Charbagdanga, Narayanpur and Debinagar unions in Sadar upazila and Panka, Durlavpur, Ghorapakhia and Uzirpur unions in Shibganj upazila are well known for coriander farming.

“The herb is widely cultivated between October and February at very little costs in shoal areas, considered suitable for coriander cultivation,” said an official at the regional office of the Department of agriculture Extension.

“Coriander cultivation needs only Tk 2,500 to Tk 3,000 to cultivate a bigha of land, which sells between Tk 12,000 to Tk 15,000,” accoprding to a farmer in Bagdanga.

Over 2,000 farmers have cultivated coriander this season on 130 hectares in the district.

Rice co-op between Bangladesh Vietnam suggested

Rice co-op between Bangladesh Vietnam suggested
Kazi Aziul Islam

Vietnam, a major rice producing country, is ready to help Bangladesh both in augmenting rice production and its supply at times of crisis.

If Bangladesh government wants that actively, scopes are there to establish rice cooperation with Viet Nam, which is a top rice grower and exporter, Vietnamese ambassador in Dhaka said.

The cooperation can be utilised in sharing Viet Nam experience in better yields of rice or privileged supply of rice stocks to Bangladesh, in any crisis period, hinted ambassador Nguyen Van That.

‘Potential scopes are there for rice cooperation between Bangladesh and Vietnam,’ said Nguyen, at a luncheon meeting, on Monday. Pham Van Dinh, the Viet Nam Counsellor also attended the meeting held at a city restaurant.

Despite being a major grower, Bangladesh often requires importing a potion of its rice demand, especially when natural calamities damage rice crop.

After Thailand, Viet Nam is the world second largest exporter of rice, significant exporter of spices, but to Bangladeshi commodity importers rely on India and Vietnam remains their unknown zone.

The Vietnamese envoy said Bangladesh government has to play main role in developing the bilateral rice cooperation and private sector importers will follow subsequently.

‘If government to government negotiations take place, I hope Bangladesh can get Vietnamese rice at even privileged price,’ he said.

Nguen cited the point as he points out that rice prices in Bangladesh remain much lower than international export market prices and importers remain discouraged.

A good harvest, last time of Boro, which makes two third of Bangladesh 30 million tones annual rice output, kept Bangladesh’s rice market quite stable in the past few months.

But rice price in on increase again as a relatively dry past summer has depressed Aman, the second largest rice crop, which is harvested in early winter.

Moreover, a halt in rice exports from India, which has suffered huge loss in rice production, due to drought in past summer, has kept Bangladesh market in vulnerability.

‘Rice price and stocks in India always put a physiological impact in Bangladesh market,’ said Mahabub Hossain, a senior economist having expertise on rice.

On the proposed Bangladesh Vietnam rice cooperation, Mahabub said, ‘it would have been benefiting Bangladesh much.’

‘Vietnam is the world leader in shorter maturity rice varieties which are much potential for Bangladesh for increasing it annul output by harvesting more crops in a year,’ he said.

Hossain recalls that through the IRRI, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute earlier had received some Vietnamese rice varieties and drum seeder, which is a much productive applied technology for seeding rice plants.

Some Vietnamese rice varieties have been proved convenient in many parts of Bangladesh including the Khulna region. But some varieties could not unutilised due to lack of sharing experience, he said.

‘Active cooperation between two governments will facilitate Bangladesh rice sector much,’ he predicted.

Bangladeshi rice seeds go abroad

Bangladeshi rice seeds go abroad

A total of 19 varieties of rice out of 52 developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) are now being cultivated in 14 countries across the world.

Farmers of India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bhutan, Iraq, China, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Benin are now cultivating the BRRI developed rice, officials confirmed.

Bangladesh started exchange of seeds across the world through the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice from 1980.

While talking to The Independent yesterday BRRI research director Dr MA Salam, however, said that Bangladeshi farmers did not cultivate any varieties developed by these 14 countries.

“Bangladesh is not cultivating any India-developed  varieties, while India is cultivating the BRRI’s ‘BR-11′ variety, Dr Salam claimed.

According to the research director, the Assam Agricultural University of India has requested the BRRI to provide seeds of BR-29.

Assam’s land is fit for cultivating the BRRI’s developed variety of BR-29 and some seeds have already been smuggled out to India, sources said adding, that some Assamese farmers are now cultivating BR-29.

Dr Salam said that Bangladeshi scientists had earlier carried out research on Indian aromatic rice Bashmati, but the Indian government requested the BRRI not to conduct research on Bashmati. The Indian government claimed that Bashmati was Indian heritage, he added.

Salam, however, claimed that the BRRI had achieved a breakthrough in developing an aromatic rice named “BRRI dhan 50 (Banglamati)” like the Indian Bashmati rice after more than 15 years of research.

BRRI has made an outstanding contribution to the food security of the country through releasing modern varieties (MV) of rice and improved production technologies since its establishment on October 1, 1970 he said adding: “The BRRI has developed 52 modern varieties of rice, including three hybrids having potential of yielding two to three times more than the traditional rice varieties.”

Rice is the staple food of about 160 million people of Bangladesh. It provides employment to nearly 48 per cent of the rural people, about two-third of total calorie supply and about one-half of the total protein intakes of an average person in the country.

The rice sector contributes one-half of the agricultural GDP and one-sixth of the national income in Bangladesh.

However, there is no reason to be complacent. The population of Bangladesh is still growing by two million every year and may increase by another 30 million over the next 20 years.

Thus, Bangladesh will require about 27.26 million tons of rice in 2020. During this time, total rice area will also shrink to 10.28 million hectares.

Rice yield therefore, needs to be increased from the present 2.74 to 3.74 tonnes per hectare.

Sustainable soil-nutrients and crop management is a must for food security

Sustainable soil-nutrients and crop management is a must for food security

RAJSHAHI, Dec 8 (BSS)- Sustainable soil-nutrients and crop management is a must for food security considering the prevailing risk of irrigation- water scarcity in the country’s northwest region particularly in its vast Barind tract.

However, large- scale promotion of conservation agriculture and nutrients management could be the effective means of overcoming the risk. Besides, farmers’ income and livelihood could be possible through integrated crop and resource management.

Agriculture scientists and researchers made this observation while visiting some trial fields of wheat and lentil, which were brought under the modern system, along with sharing views with the farmers at Kapasia under Paba and Chalkpolashi under Puthiya upazilas of the district yesterday.

Regional Wheat Research Center (RWRC) has been conducting the field level research works with technical support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project.

Prof Dr Richard Bell of Faculty of Sustainability, Environmental and Life Sciences of Murdoch University of Australia and Leader of the project Dr Ross Brennan, who is also the Principal Research Officer of Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia, visited the research plots to see for themselves the present position.

They expressed their satisfaction over seeing the trial plots and modern farmers-practice.

RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Israil Hossain and its Senior Scientific Officer Dr Ilias Hossain accompanied the visiting team and briefed them.

Main objective of the visit was to knowledge-sharing through discussion and interaction among the researchers and farmers in the field level outcomes along with overcoming the existing problems being faced by the farmers.

Sharing views with the farmers the scientists termed the conservation agriculture as less soil disturbance, beneficial crop rotation and residue management.

In this context, they opined that the yearly crop-rotation of T-Aman- wheat/lentil-mugbean/chickpea has been found as beneficial for the farmers through applying the bed-planting, power tiller operated direct seeding and strip tillage methods.

Prof. Richard Bell mentioned that conservation agriculture allows improving soil bulk density, increase soil biological activities and increase water holding capacity as it needs less soil disturbance and residue management.

During interaction, however, the farmers said that new seeding method save tillage cost, utilize residual soil moisture, timely planting, less weed due to no tilling operation.

Besides, they said the raised beds facilitate sowing without waste of time allowing crop growth to better match water availability side by side with less tillage cost, pest attack and weed nuisance.

Likewise, they also revealed that the direct seeding, bed- planting and strip tillage have been detected as most cost- effective tools of the conservation agriculture and nutrient management.

Not only that, they said, bed planting improves water distribution and irrigation efficiency, better results out of fertilizers and pesticides and reduces weed infestation and crop lodging.

It saves crops from disturbance from rats, they said. The pattern helps farmers save 30 per cent irrigation water and 30 to 40 per cent of seeds and fertilizers.

In this regard, they demanded machinery availability and adequate training for them to operate the machine competently for the sake of successful promotion of the conservation agriculture method in the days to come.

Under the conventional system, RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Israil Hossain said, the single largest constraint requires planting of wheat in the country late in winter, leading to poor yield.

He favored more expansion of the modern technology to other areas of the region including its vast tract of Barind area to minimize the current water stress condition.

The policy planners should consider the new agriculture technology dissemination through their concerned agencies for better and sustainable agriculture productivity, Dr Hossain added.

Principles of conservation agriculture are use of reduced tillage, retention of some amounts of residues in the field, sustainable and profitable crop diversification and or crop rotation and judicious use of natural resources.

In present context of climate change especially unpredictable rainfall, unusual drought and other natural calamities, he said this technology can help the farmers utilizing the minimum amount of water for crop establishment like avoiding paddling operation.

Demand of food production is gradually increasing to feed the huge number population and more pressures are coming on per- unit cultivable land.

So, the new and updated technology is capable to enhance production and productivity in cost-effective way, he opined.

To this end, understanding of better livelihoods and improved mechanisms of stakeholder participation must be ensured. Different international donor organizations should support such kind of need-oriented agricultural activity for its large-scale promotion which needs supply of need-based adequate machinery.

Some proven benefits of the conservation agriculture- based machinery such as power tiller operated seeder (PTOS) and bed former or planters are included early planting, increased yield, reduce production costs and water requirement and help improve the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

PTOS can play a vital role to enhance farmers’ income, minimize production cost and crop- diversification. In the conventional tillage system, soil losses organic matters, breaks structure, reduce beneficial organism activities, more erosion and ultimately loss fertility.

In this regard, he viewed that there is no alternative to promote updated technologies at farmers level to make the crop- diversification system successful to face the existing constraints of both surface and groundwater resources.

By using the new pattern of crop rotation, he said huge more Barind land that remain fallow in the region after the harvest of transplanted Aman each year, could be used to grow wheat/lentil, followed by chickpea/mugbean, through providing small irrigation facilities.

Bumper production of aromatic rice expected in northern districts

Bumper production of aromatic rice expected in northern districts

BSS, Rangpur

The farmers are expected to achieve a bumper production of aromatic rice in the country’s northern region as its harvest is nearing completion with excellent yield rates during the current Aman season.

Experts and officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) yesterday said the farmers have cultivated aromatic rice in more land this time as its farming has been gaining popularity in recent years because of huge demand and higher prices in the markets.

They said cultivation of such rice has been increasing also due to favourable climate and special steps taken by the DAE, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) and several NGOs.

The experts also expected brighter prospects of increased production of aromatic rice everywhere in the country’s northern region in near future as the ongoing motivational activities are being proved to be very effective in attracting the farmers.

Additional Director (AD) of Rangpur Agriculture Zone (RAZ) of the DAE Shakhawat Hossain today told the national news agency that the farmers have cultivated over 16 varieties of aromatic rice in 29,498 hectares land in eight districts in the Zone.

“The farmers are getting 1.7 to 2 tonnes yield rates in terms of clean rice of these aromatic varieties, harvesting of which is expected to end within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

This time, farmers have cultivated Badsha Bhog, Kalijira, Kataribhog, Nonia, Zirakatari, Chinigura, Basmati, Uknimadhu, Zirashail, Begunbichi, Tilkapur, Bhogzira, Dulabhog, Khirshabhog, Bawaibhog, BR 34 and some other varieties aromatic rice, he added.

Coordinator of Cereal System Initiatives for South Asia (CSISA- IRRI) for Dinajpur Hub and former Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Agronomy of BRRI Dr M Abdul Mazid predicted huge prospects of farming aromatic rice in the region.

While talking to BSS today, he said that the BRRI already evolved aromatic variety BR-5 and BRRI Dhan 34 for cultivation during the Aman season and BRRI Dhan 50 for farming during the Boro season in the country and the varieties are becoming popular.

“Medium low-land is suitable for farming all varieties of aromatic rice and its production can be increased by and large through making necessary seeds available and ensuring an additional supplementary irrigation while farming,” he said.

Deputy Directors of the DAE Kamal Shariful Alam, Yunus Ali, Mohsin Ali and Ataul Haque told BSS that the farmers are bringing more lands under the aromatic rice farming every year in the zone.

There are huge potentials for enhancing aromatic rice production by utilizing the latest agri-technologies and existing natural resources, they said adding, these varieties could be exported after meeting local demand.

They urged for creating more facilities for exports by boosting production and put more importance on minimum use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides and introduction of integrated pest managements.

“Aromatic rice has been cultivated in 2.76 percent of the total land brought under Aman farming during the current season which was 1.08 percent of the total land last season,” AD Shakhawat Hossain said.

Besides, crushing and processing systems for these varieties of aromatic rice should be improved to international standard for boosting exports, the DAE officials and experts observed.

The BINA, DAE and BRRI experts called for intensifying the innovation of more high yielding varieties of aromatic rice that could be adapted with the topographic and climatic conditions for increased productions.

According to the experts, such rice including Basmati, Chinigura, Kalijira and BR-34 being produced in the region are of international standard and already attracting the buyers in the global markets.

The BRRI and BINA have so far released six varieties of aromatic rice at the growers’ level and the agri-departments and several NGOs including Rangpur-Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) have been working hard for increased productions of the rice and seeds.

Farmers get huge success of flood tolerant varieties in Kurigram

Farmers get huge success of flood tolerant varieties in Kurigram

KURIGRAM, Bangladesh, Dec 4 (BSS)- Farmers of Kurigram district have achieved huge success by cultivating flood tolerant varieties of rice.

Aman cultivation suffers almost every year in this region as frequent floods inundate paddy fields.

Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources said Bangladesh Rice Research Institute(BRRI) and International Rice Research Institute(IRRI) under supervision of Solidarity, a non- government organization, cultivated BR-11, Swarna sub-1, IR-64 sub-1 experimentally on 35 acres of land in the district.

A field day was held on Wednesday at Kalihati under Sadar upazila on the occasion of harvesting of Swarna sub-1.

Deputy Director of the DAE Md Mahsin Ali, Consultant of IRRI Dr MA Bari, Chief Scientific Officer of BRRI Rangpur region Dr Abdul Jalil, Mredha and Executive Director of Harunur-or-Rashid Lal, among others, were present on the occasion.

Farmers Abdul Hamid and Jitendranath said their paddy fields remained under flood water for 17 days.

The farmers said, “We thought that there was no hope of reviving of paddy plants if those remain under water for a long period. But after a few days of receding flood water, the paddy plants returned to their life.”

Hamid said, “I got a very good yield of the variety”. The production rate of the flood tolerant variety was 4.1 metric tons
per hectares, he added.

The BRRI and IRRI officials said they would take massive plans for wide scale cultivation of these varieties across the country.

DAE Deputy Director Md Mahsin Ali said Aman production of nearly 45 hectares of land was greatly hampered due to floods.

“We can overcome the problems by cultivating the flood tolerant varieties,” he added.

Bumper production of winter vegetables in NR

Bumper production of winter vegetables in NR
BSS, Rangpur

Farmers and officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) are expecting a bumper production of winter vegetables in the northern region (NR) during the current Rabi season.

Following large-scale early farming of the vegetables under the changed climatic conditions and cropping patterns, all varieties of winter vegetable have now flooded the local markets with excellent yield rates under favorable climate so far, officials said.

The DAE, Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation and many NGOs have supplied adequate quality seeds, other agro-inputs and provided necessary technical assistance to the farmers. Besides, different commercial banks, including Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank and NGOs have disbursed agriculture loans and interest-free loans among the farmers to make the massive winter vegetables farming programme successful.

Meanwhile, the early and excellent continuous harvests of the winter vegetables have also brought smiles to the farmers as they are getting better prices at the beginning of the season, farmers and market sources said.

The farmers have still been continuing cultivation of winter vegetables after harvesting the early and short duration variety Aman paddies side by side with continuing harvest of the early variety vegetables.

Farming of late variety winter vegetables will continue further even after harvesting of traditional variety T-Aman paddy in the region, the DAE officials said. The DAE has fixed an all time record production target of 21,52,512 tonnes winter vegetables from 1,34,532 hectares land in all sixteen northern districts with an average yield rate of 16 tonnes per hectare during the current Rabi season.

The DAE officials are expecting a super bumper production of winter vegetables including potato during the current Rabi season following further reduction of prices of the non- urea fertilizers by the government.

Meanwhile, the vegetables traders and middlemen have already started exporting huge quantities of early variety vegetables to Dhaka and other parts of the country by trucks from different points in these districts daily.

Under the programme, a total of 50,852 hectares of land will be brought under cultivation to produce 8,13,632 tonnes winter vegetables this season in eight districts under the Rangpur Agriculture Zone.

Besides, more 83,680 hectares of land will be brought under the programme to produce another 13,38,880 tonnes winter vegetables from other eight districts under Rajshahi Agriculture Zone.

However, the farmers are expected to bring more land than the target as many people have been cultivating winter vegetables at their homesteads and in the char areas on the river basins in these districts, the DAE officials said today.

Tk 350 crore direct diesel subsidy for farmers

Tk 350 crore direct diesel subsidy for farmers
BSS, Dhaka

The Ministry of agriculture will disburse Taka 350 crore as direct diesel subsidy for the country’s 90 lakh farmers from January next to facilitate further agriculture production during the upcoming Boro season.

“Each farmer will get the subsidy directly to buy necessary amount of diesel through a coupon from the particular dealer. The amount of subsidy in cash will be Taka 5.00 per liter for each coupon, which will be available in any nearby nationalized or listed private bank,” Agriculture Secretary C Q K Mustaq Ahmed told BSS here on Wednesday.

The government allocated Taka 3,600 crore in the current year’s budget on account of farm subsidy. Last week the Ministry of Agriculture adopted the guidelines and mechanism for the disbursement of diesel and electricity subsidy amo0ng the farmers, he said.

Last year the government increased the subsidy in the agriculture sector to the tune of Taka 2,100 crore. “Our focal point is immediate disbursement of the subsidy money among the farmers during the crucial Boro season,” he also said.

While describing the method of disbursement of the diesel subsidy, Mustaq Ahmed said the Ministry of Agriculture is preparing agricultural input distribution card for 1.5 crore farmers’ families. “Every detail of the farmers’ families would be included in the card,” he said.

The Agriculture Secretary also said that the farmers would get the card by the end of this month. “Poor as well as marginal farmers will be identified during distribution of this card,” he also said.

The Agriculture Sector, the main lifeline of the national economy, contributes 21 per cent to the country’s GDP and generates 60 per cent employment in the country.

A senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture said two categories for the subsidy have been fixed: block allocation for the small growers and subsidy on specific amount (depending on land size of the growers).

An official of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said a list of as many as 67 lakh farmers was prepared by the immediate past caretaker government. “We are working on the list to make it more realistic and finally to see the number is increasing,” he said adding,” our main aim is to enlist all those who have at least half an acre of land to cultivate Boro crop.”

The government has already set a target to achieve Boro yield at 1.9 crore tonnes during the upcoming crop season that is expected to record a rise by 5 lakh tonnes over the previous year’s total production.

To facilitate the farmers in irrigation, the government earlier directed the Power Development Board (PDB) to ensure 1,664 MW electricity supply to the REB to run the power-driven pumps. The number of irrigation pumps is now 15 lakh including 2.5 lakh run by electricity across the country, the ministry sources said.

The caretaker government for the first time earmarked Taka 750 crore in the 2006-07 budget for direct subsidy on diesel. It distributed Taka 250 crore during the same year.

The caretaker government also allocated Tk 540 crore as diesel subsidy for the fiscal year 2007-08 but due to a scandal on distribution of the subsidy it stopped the programme for 2008- 2009 fiscal year.

BRRI achieves breakthrough in inventing drought tolerant paddy

BRRI achieves breakthrough in inventing drought tolerant paddy

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)  has achieved breakthrough in  inventing two varieties of  drought tolerant paddy after more than one decade of research which is expected to go a long way in augmenting food grain production substantially.

The two newly invented varieties of BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 will pave the way for cultivating paddy on nine lakh hectares of drought prone lands across the country, BRRI researchers said.

The two varieties of paddy will be  cultivated next year as a test case. If the test  is successful, we start distributing seeds of the two newly invented varieties among the farmers of drought prone areas, BRRI director  general Md. Firoze Shah Sikder, told The Independent yesterday.

Replying to a question, he said that  the per hectare production of BRRI dhan 42 and 43 will be around 4.1 tonnes and 4.0 tonnes respectively.

“Our 12-14 years of research work, labour and efforts will be meaningful and worthy, if the newly invented varieties are successful,” the DG of BRRI said.

He said the country faces several kinds of natural calamities and necessary genes have made the new varieties and lines more adaptable to the environment. Consequently, BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 showed yield advantage over BR21 at drought prone direct-seeded areas (DSR).

Research director of BRRI Dr MA Salam told The Independent that two new high-yielding paddy seed varieties will be harvested next year on a test basis and later it will formally released to farmers to grow paddy on drought-prone lands.
He said the adaptability of these varieties was also observed in drought prone areas of Magura, Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj.

DSR varieties BR 20, BR 21 and BR 24 did not go down well with the farmers due to their high degree of susceptibility to drought. On the other hand, the new varieties BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 showed better performances than Fulbadami, the popular local check variety in a trial conducted at Chuadanga, the most drought prone region in the country, he added.

He further said  that the laboratory studies on root length and time to leaf rolling in desiccation supported that the varieties had higher degree of resistance to water stress than BR21 which was closer or similar to the local check Fulbadami.

Cultivable land of Bangladesh is about 8.2 million hectares. of them, five million hectares are under  transparent aman (T Aman) crop. Being dependent on rain fed condition, T Aman crop suffers from drought due to erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall.

Drought prone T Aman area of the country is about 4.2 million hectares covering 254 upazilas in 46 districts. Yield loss in T Aman due to drought varies from 15 per cent to 60 per cent according to the intensity of the drought, sources said.

According to experts, per capita paddy area will gradually shrink to only 0.149 acre in 2020 and the required rice per head per day will  decrease from 528 grams in 2001 to 463 grams in 2020 due to the increase in population. This indicates a decreasing trend of daily requirement of rice.

For sustaining the adequate level of rice yield required for the ever increasing population in  the years to come, rice researchers should continue to develop improved and cost effective technologies, experts stressed.

They also laid emphasis on co-ordinated and integrated efforts to tackle the drought considering it a number one problem in food production.

Tomato cultivation gains popularity in N-region including

Tomato cultivation gains popularity in N-region including
By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, Bangladesh, Dec 2 (BSS)- Tomato farming is gaining popularity in all the 16 districts under Rajshahi division particularly in the vast tract of Barind area and expected to earn at least Taka 35 crore from the production during the current season.

Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources said the cultivation was increased by five times during the last 15 to 20 years and the production has gone up at the same pace with the promotion of high yielding varieties and modern technologies at the farmers’ level.

Tomato, which is now considered as the second cash crop of the region, plays an important role in the economy.

At least one and half lakh families in the division derive direct financial benefit from either cultivating tomato or its trading. Hundreds of educated and uneducated youths are now engaged in tomato cultivation.

It is learnt from the tomato cultivators here that they earn between Taka 20 and 25 thousand by cultivating tomato on a bigha of land in a season.

The early varieties have appeared in the local markets but those are beyond the purchasing capacity of the lower and lower- middle class people.

The wholesale price of a mound of tomato is around Taka 2000 to 2400 at present but the price will go down to around Taka 100 per mound late in the season.

The wholesale traders from across the country particularly from Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal, Sylhet, Shariatpur and Madaripur are started rushing to different markets of the region for purchasing the crop through middlemen.

Soil and climatic condition of all the districts, especially Rajshahi, Natore, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Pabna, Bogra, Sirajganj, Joypurhat, Rangpur and Gaibandha are very suitable for tomato cultivation.

It is now widely cultivated on the dry soil of the Barind area, the sources said.

Different public and private level commercial banks, especially Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) have been extending credit facilities to the farmers for making them interested in the cultivation while the DAE providing technological assistance to them for making the cultivation more profitable.

The Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) has developed 10 high yielding and quality varieties and modern technologies.

It has been executing special programmes to promote those among the growers through arranging farmers training in different areas.

The rates of production of the developed varieties are comparatively high and profitable than that of the domestic varieties.

The farmers also prefer to cultivate some hybrid varieties of tomato which are high yielding and much more profitable.

Tomato cultivation has created job opportunities for hundreds of educated youths of the region and it could change the socio- economic condition of the poor people if marketing and cost- effective environment-friendly technologies are ensured.

Apart from this, prospects for tomato cultivation in the country’s northwester region in both the winter and summer seasons are bright if farmers get international markets and preservation facilities.

Sources said the farmers incurred losses every year due to shortage of storage facilities as thousands of tonnes of tomatoes are perished.

If they are provided with training for preserving the vegetable, dependence on importing this from the neighboring country would be reduced.

The Department of Youth Development, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) and banks can extend the facilities of training and loans to the unemployed people for setting tomato processing cottage industries.

If government and private entrepreneurs of the country come forward for marketing the tomatoes, it will create jobs for hundreds of people, including poor women.

Red Chilli Business at Fulbari of Bogra

Red Chilli Business at Fulbari of Bogra
Turnover goes up to Tk 100cr from Tk 5cr in just 5 years

Hasibur Rahman Bilu, Bogra

A serene Bogra village has turned into a hot spot of red chilli trading with renowned spice producers and marketers sourcing bulk of their raw materials from the place.

Within a span of five years, the annual turnover of red chilli business at Fulbari village of Sariakandi upazila in Bogra has gone up from a just Tk 5 crore to Tk 100 crore, said local businessmen.

For producing package red pepper, companies like Square, Acme and BD Foods now collect their chillies from as many as 12 purchase centres at Fulbari. Over 2000 poor rural women are employed in these centres having potentials of supplying about 3000 MT red chillies.

As Bogra is known for producing quality hot red chillies, five enthusiastic businessmen set up the chilli market at Fulbari in 2004 aiming to supply chillies to spice factories in the capital city.

Over the years spice makers got good consumer base, particularly in the urban neighbourhoods where working women and also the homemakers running families without assistance of domestic helps find it easier to buy a sachet of red pepper than grinding chillies at home.

“We started the red chilli business first in 2004 along with a few local businessmen including Moksedul Alam and Mozzafar Hossain in a very low scale” said wholesaler Md Zahurul Islam.

“So far I remember, I supplied only 80 MT of red chillies in the first year and the volume has now gone up to 300 MT fetching me around Tk 3 crore a year” said Md Zahurul Islam.

Chilli trader Md Moksedul Alam told The Daily Star that at least 5000 jobs have been created in the areas centering production, processing, trading and marketing of red chillies at Fulbari during the last five years.

Alam, who also works as a local agent for Radhuni, a Square spice brand, said initially Radhuni used to collect red chillies worth Tk 10 crore annually from Fulbari but the volume of purchase has now shoot up to Tk 30 crore.

Now 12 businessmen are supplying quality chillies to over 10 spice companies having factories in Dhaka, Natore, Sirajganj and Comilla districts.

“I employed 20 women and five men five years ago when I started my business. Today, 60 women are working at my purchase centre,” said Moksedul Alam.

“I have started my business with only 46 people including 30 women five years ago but now the centre has around 300 employees,” said another trader, Md Zahurul Islam.

According to Islam, about 2000 women are engaged in the trade starting from on-the-field chilli sorting to its processing and packaging.

Didarun Bibi, 50, who has been working in a purchase centre at Fulbari village since 2004 said, she earns Tk 1500 per month.

“I bought some cultivable land in the area from my own income” said Bibi recalling that previously she used to work as domestic help in the neighbouring Amtoli village at a paltry wage of Tk 200 a month.

Gini Bibi, 35, another proud worker said, she was able to support the education expenses of her son and daughter from her earnings from chilli purchase centre.

15m farmers to get agri-inputs distribution cards by Dec

15m farmers to get agri-inputs distribution cards by Dec
FE Report

Some 15 million farmers, for the first time, will get ‘agri-inputs distribution cards’ by next month in a move that will support the government to streamline its payment system for the agriculture sector.

“Necessary preparations have been completed to distribute the cards among the farmers by the end of December,” a senior agriculture ministry official told the FE Thursday.

The agriculture ministry has planned to complete the card distribution process by next month for ensuring smooth supply of urea fertliser and disbursement of proposed subsidy on diesel and electricity for running irrigation pumps in the ensuing ‘Boro’ plantation season.

Details about the extent of cropping lands, use of agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilisers, amount of payable government subsidies and types of cultivated crops by an individual farmer will be incorporated in the agri-input distribution cards, said the official.

According to the ministry officials, the government will provide cash subsidy and other agriculture inputs to farmers on the basis of such cards.

“The card will not only help the government to systematically distribute subsidies and other inputs among farmers, but also check leakage and irregularities in their payment system,” said an official.

Besides, introduction of the cards will also help the government to fix the country’s demands for agri-inputs including fertilisers so that necessary steps can be taken on time.

The government has already prepared the list of about 15 million farmers following a countrywide survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) for distribution of such cards.

Officials said the authorities will update the list of such cards every year.

Distribution of the agri-input distribution cards has been initiated against the backdrop of the government’s plan to establish an agricultural database.

Official sources also said the government has completed the process of appointing dealers and retailers at all upazila levels to ensure uninterrupted supply of fertiliser, especially urea, during the upcoming Boro season.

An average nine retailers have been appointed for every upazila against each authorised dealer for ensuring greater access of farmers to fertiliser, they mentioned.

Pran to double farm produce procurement

Pran to double farm produce procurement
Sohel Parvez

Pran has set a target to double investment in agricultural produce procurement, mainly from contract growers, to boost sales in domestic and export markets.

The leading processed-food maker will buy agricultural produce worth Tk 400 crore in 2010, officials said.

Until November 2009, Pran has purchased various agricultural products worth around Tk 200 crore from farmers.

“We have planned to increase the raw material procurement to expand business and serve rural farmers,” said Kamruzzaman Kamal, marketing director of Pran-RFL Group.

The entity with turnover in excess of Tk 900 crore will buy mangoes, aromatic rice, pineapples, tomatoes, fresh milk, spices, peanuts, mung, potatoes and mustard from farmers, mainly in the north.

Pran that exports to more than 70 countries plans to cash in on the growing market for agro-processed foods.

“We will purchase mainly from our contract farmers. We believe such direct buying helps farmers get fair prices as it reduces scope for middlemen to make extra gains,” said Kamal. Pran procures agricultural produce from more than 10,000 contract growers.

Of the Tk 400 crore purchase plan, a fourth or Tk 100 crore will go into procuring mangoes to extract the pulp that makes mango flavoured juice and strengthen its position in the mango drink segment.

Currently, more than 10 local and foreign brands are competing in the category to dominate the rising mango-flavoured drink market.

Pran bought mangoes worth Tk 70 crore from farmers this year.

This year, aromatic rice, fresh milk, tomatoes and spices will account for most of the procurement.

“We have close connections with farmers in rural areas,” said Kamal, adding that the contract farmers are offered market prices.

“We have contract growers in various districts such as Rajshahi, Natore and Chapainawabganj. They produce tomato, aromatic rice, mango, peanut, milk and spices.”

Kamal said the company wants to bring in more farmers under contract next year to ensure guaranteed supplies of fresh agricultural produce.

Big onion output target set to reduce import

Big onion output target set to reduce import
Bss, Rangpur

The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has fixed a target for producing 4,69,679 tonnes of onion on 72,292 hectares of land in the northern region of the country during the current Rabi season.

According to official sources, the DAE, the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) and a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) are working to make the onion-farming programme a success.

Steps have been taken to provide adequate training, technical assistance and inputs, high quality imported and locally produced seeds, and agri-loans for the farmers under various programme, including the Northwest Crop Diversification Project (NCDP).

Sources said, the special steps taken earlier this year to produce onion during the last summer season will help greatly in producing the spicy crop in the region.

This year, more steps have been taken to increase production of onion during the current Rabi season, deputy directors of the DAE Kamal Shariful Alam, Mohsin Ali, Yunus Ali and Hazrat Ali in northern districts told the news agency.

Senior agro-experts in the DAE, BADC and BARI said, the onion import will come down significantly next year after achievement of the fixed target during this season and added that the target is expected to be achieved due to the special steps.

They hoped that onion production in the region would continue to increase as the crop is being cultivated twice a year in place of only once during the winter in the past.

Besides, the farmers have been showing more interest in farming spicy crops including onion this time following disbursement of easy-term agri-loan at only two percent interest rate among the farmers.

Earlier, a huge amount of allocated agri-loan money for the purpose had remained idle with the banks, but due to recent steps taken by Bangladesh Bank, the loans are now being disbursed at larger scales among the farmers.

Onion will be cultivated this year on 13,325 hectares of land in Rajshahi, 4,431 hectares in Naogaon, 3,467 hectares in Natore, 4,047 hectares in Chapainawabganj, 33,060 hectares in Pabna, 944 hectares in Sirajganj, 2,442 hectares in Bogra and 816 hectares in Joypurhat districts.

This season, 1,896 hectares will be brought under onion farming in Rangpur, 1,152 hectares in Gaibandha, 730 hectares in Lalmonirhat, 1,416 hectares in Nilphamari, 775 hectares in Kurigram, 2,195 hectares in Dinajpur, 648 hectares in Thakurgaon and 948 hectares in Panchagarh.

Mercantile Bank to finance purchase of tractors by farmers

Mercantile Bank to finance purchase of tractors by farmers

From now on, Mercantile Bank Limited will finance the farmers directly to purchase tractors for the development of agricultural sector, said a press release.

In this connection, an agreement was signed between Mercantile Bank Limited and ACI Motors Limited, the sole distributor of Sonalika Tractors, in the city recently.

Mercantile Bank Managing Director (Current Charge) AKM Shahidul Haque and Business Director (Agribusiness) of ACI Motors Dr Khandaker Helal Uddin signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations in presence Md Abdul Jalil, MP, chairman of Mercantile Bank Kimited.