Low production cost and easy cultivation process have made sweet potato growers eager in its cultivation in Rangpur region Dhaka Tribune

Farmers have already exceeded the fixed farming target of sweet potatoes by 9.14 percent, said sources

Farmers and field level agriculture extension officials are expecting a bumper yield of sweet potatoes in the Rangpur region during the current season.

Farmers have already exceeded the fixed farming target of sweet potatoes by 9.14 percent, said sources.

According to the sources, favorable weather conditions and timely supply of necessary agricultural input have created the favourable situation.

Many of the farmers are showing interest in cultivation of sweet potatoes in the region for a higher demand of the crop with good market price.

Low production cost and an easy cultivation process made the growers eager about cultivation and for this reason cultivation of sweet potatoes has increased considerably in the region.

Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said sowing of sweet potato seeds still continued and the tender plants were growing superbly now amid favorable climatic conditions in five districts of the region.

The DAE had fixed a target of producing 34,670 tons of sweet potatoes from 1,685 hectares of land in Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts in the region this season.

However, farmers have cultivated the crop on 1,780 hectares of land, exceeding the fixed farming target by 1,869 hectares of land or 9.14 percent this time with government assistance to recoup the huge crop losses they incurred during the recent floods.

Agriculturist Md Moniruzzaman, Deputy Director of the DAE at its regional office, said hundreds of flood-affected char and riverside people are farming sweet potatoes on sandy barren and char lands side by side with many farmers on the mainland.

As the sandy loamy and sandy lands are suitable for sweet potato farming, there is a brighter prospect of enhancing cultivation of the low-cost crop without using fertilizers and irrigation water on char lands.

Cultivation of sweet potatoes is highly profitable, with cultivation increasing every year and increasing production in recent times in all five districts of the region.

“Farmers produced 39,884 tons of the crop from 1,780 hectares of land during the last 2019-2020 Rabi season and 34,670 tons from 1,685 hectares of land during the previous 2018-2019 Rabi season in the region,” Moniruzzaman said.

Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said production of sweet potatoes could be increased further by imparting training and providing latest technologies and easy-term agri-loans to char people.

“Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A and C and mineral elements, which are absent in rice. It is enriched with protein, carbohydrate, calcium, iron, carotene and vitamin B1 and B2, which are essential for the human body,” Rashid added.

An adult person can meet daily demand of 13 grams of vitamin-A by consuming a single sweet potato.

“People of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, some African and Latin American countries consume sweet potatoes as an alternative to rice while in the USA and Japan it is widely used as food,” Rashid added.

Agriculturist Dr. MA Mazid, who got Independence Award-2018 in the food security category, said people living in char areas of Rangpur agriculture region were farming sweet potatoes along with widely consuming them as an alternative food to rice.

He said many tasty foods like halua, payesh, bread, pauruti, biscuits, pastries and cakes could be produced through processing sweet potatoes with other ingredients for its devitrified consumption.

“If common people become habituated to sweet potato consumption, we can reduce the pressure on rice,” Dr. Mazid said, adding that sweet potatoes have the same carbohydrates, more nutrients and vitamins than rice.

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