One of the promising and profitable enterprises that has gained popularity in Khulna’s Koyra upazila is the cultivation of BT brinjal, a genetically engineered variety of eggplant.
Thanks to its high-yielding capacity and low production cost mainly due to the reduced use of pesticides, more and more farmers in the upazila are taking up BT (bacillus thuringiensis) brinjal cultivation.
With reduced costs of pesticides and increased yield, BT brinjal farmers say their profits have increased manifold.
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“After preparing a portion of my field in August, I planted the BT Brinjal seeds in September. I started harvesting the eggplant in the first week of November. I did manage to harvest the eggplant twice in a week and each time I got some 150-180 kg of BT brinjal from my land,” says Gopal Sardar, a local farmer.
“Spending barely Tk4,000-5,000, I raked in huge profits,” says Gopal, who intends to bring his entire farm land under BT brinjal cultivation next year.
“Encouraged by my efforts, many farmers in my locality have shown interest in cultivating the fruit and some even took seeds from me. I got the seeds from the local agriculture office,” he adds.
Also read: Faridpur sees good harvest of brinjal; farmers happy with price
His neighbour, Azizul, another farmer, says, “I have brought 13 decimals of land under BT brinjal cultivation by spending around Tk 1,500.”
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, farmers who cultivate the general varieties of brinjal are forced to use 17-20 metric tonnes of pesticides every year to save the crops from pest attacks, which is the main reason behind the rising cost of production.
DAE has introduced BT-1,2,3 & 4 varieties, which officials say are safe for human consumption as the farmers no longer need to spray pesticides.
Ahsan, another farmer, says, “I have decided to bring my entire land parcel under BT brinjal cultivation from this year. It means more profits and less expenses.”
Zahid Hasan, assistant scientist at MLT Site in Koyra, says, “Initially we did struggle a lot to make farmers ready for bringing their farm lands under BT brinjal cultivation. Now, after getting good results, many farmers are going for the new BT brinjal variety cultivation.”
Authorities say they organise training programmes for farmers intending to cultivate BT brinjal.
Dr Harun Or Rashid, chief scientific officer of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), says, “We have organised a number of training sessions for farmers keen on BT brinjal cultivation in Koyra upazila.”
“Farmers use pesticides to keep other varieties of brinjal safe, but now the scientists have introduced the BT variety. The cultivation of this variety practically requires no application of insecticides. It’s good for consumers as well as farmers, who can now smile all the way to the bank.”