More than 19.70 lakh tonnes of vegetables were produced in all eight districts under Rajshahi division during the recent past winter season making all concerned including farmers, traders and consumers satisfied amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
Officials said acreage of winter vegetables is increasing in the region continuously as a result of motivational initiatives by various government and non-government organizations to reduce gradually mounting pressure on groundwater.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) had set the target to bring 86,653 hectares of land but the farmers had cultivated the seasonal crops on 92,132 hectares in the region including its vast Barind tract during the last winter season.
DAE Additional Director Sirajul Islam said the vegetable cultivation has become the best ways of changing fate of the farmers in general with reasonable investment.
Abdul Bari, 42, a farmer at Karnahar village under Paba Upazila, said he earned Tk 35,000 after selling red amaranth from one bigha of land against the production cost of around Tk 8,000.
He is very much happy over vegetable farming because he obtained good yield with a fair market price within a short time.
Mozammel Haque, 37, another farmer of Palpur village under Godagari Upazila, said not only red amaranth but also many other short duration vegetables are produced here.
He has become an icon of vegetable cultivation in his locality. His annual earnings are around Tk four to five lakh on an average at present.
He has started vegetable farming with brinjal on only five decimal of fallow land after failing to get irrigation water for Irri-boro farming around five years back. His initial income was around Tk 15,000 that inspires him to expand vegetables farming commercially.
Haque said farmers in the region are very much happy as they avail the scopes of recouping the losses caused by the adverse impacts of climate change and Covid-19 after getting lucrative high price of vegetables.
He added that the farmers get benefit by farming vegetables in the region including its vast Barind Tract. It brings a smile on marginal farmers and poor people’s faces, he added.
Besides, he said vegetable farming on both commercial and non-commercial basis is gradually increasing in the Barind area as many people are seen humming towards the farming leaving behind the high-irrigation consuming crops.
On behalf of the ‘Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)’ project, more than 12.58 lakh community people of 2.66 lakh households are being motivated and encouraged towards vegetable farming to reduce the pressure on underground water.
The project is being implemented in around 1,280 drought-hit villages in 39 Union Parishads and three municipalities of eight Upazilas in Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts since 2014, said Jahangir Alam Khan, Coordinator of the project.
Sub-assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker said that the vegetable farming in Barind land is now plentiful. Farmers are seen sending their fresh vegetables to different cities including the capital Dhaka after meeting the local demands regularly, he added.
Hundreds and thousands of farmers like Muktar, Saiful and Jamil in the area have become happy after attaining good yield and lucrative market price of the early winter, he added.
The acreage of the vegetables is increasing gradually due to more income from small land, he also said.
Dr Shakhawat Hossain, Senior Scientific Officer of On Farm Research Division, an organ of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, said farmers get benefit by farming vegetables in the region.