Labourers are working at a potato field in Bogra of Rajshahi Dhaka Tribune.

The latest official data said the DAE had set a target of producing around 3.7 million tons of potatoes on 160,000 hectares of land in all eight districts under the division during the current Rabi season

Braving the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers have already exceeded the fixed potato farming target by 2.63% in the Rajshahi agriculture region, where sowing of seeds continues this season.

The latest official data said the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) had set a target of producing around 3.7 million tons of potatoes on 160,000 hectares of land in all eight districts under the division during the current Rabi season.

DAE Additional Director Sirajul Islam said the target had been set to produce 1.3 million tons of potatoes on 57,677 hectares of land in four districts under Rajshahi Agricultural Zone, and 2.3 million tons on 102,000 hectares in four other districts of Bogra zone.

But, fortunately, the farmers have brought around 164,000 hectares of land, 60,721 hectares in Rajshahi zone and 103,000 lakh hectares in Bogra zone, taking advantage of the suitable climatic condition and other requisite facilities provided by the government, he added.

Meanwhile, the newly harvested potatoes have been appearing in the local markets abundantly for the last couple of weeks, making both farmers and consumers happy.

“I’m buying newly appeared potatoes every day at Tk40 per kilogram from vendors,” said Ambia Ferdousi Khanom, a housewife of Boaliapara in Rajshahi city, adding she was happy with the fresh vegetables.

Ashraf Ali, a farmer of Hatkanpara village under Durgapur upazila, said he had cultivated potatoes on 35 bigha of land. He was happy over his present farming condition. 

Ali also said many of his co-villagers were getting a lucrative market price for the crop at present.

Altab Hossain, 54, another farmer of Mougachhi village under Mohanpur upazila, has cultivated the crop on around 170 bigha of land in Krishnapur area of Tanore upazila.

“I had cultivated the cash crop on 110 bigha of land in the same area in the previous season. I had harvested around 8,800 maunds of potatoes and my profit was around Tk1 crore after selling them,” said Hossain. He too was very much hopeful about this year’s farming.

As in the previous year, Ershad Mondal, another farmer of the same upazila, has brought around 100 bigha of land under potato farming. He said potatoes were being sold at around Tk1,400 to 1,500 per maund in wholesale markets, which was much higher than the previous years.

Many other commercial farmers are seen passing their busy times in nursing their cultivation plots at present for deriving advantages from the lucrative market price.

Mizanur Rahman, an operator of deep-tube-wells in Krishnapur village, said the farmers were seen cultivating potatoes more instead of Boro paddy in the Barind area and Tanore and Godagari upazilas in particular.

He mentioned that the farmers were interested in potato farming as the crop was being adjudged as a less-irrigation consuming crop than boro paddy, which was a good sign in terms of lessening the gradually mounting pressure on underground water in the dried Barind area.

More than 1.2 million people of 266,000 households are also being motivated and encouraged towards farming of various less-water consuming crops, including potatoes, to reduce the pressure on underground water with the intervention of the “Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)” project.

Simultaneously, commercial potato farming has been expanded to dried land in massive ways during the last couple of years in the vast Barind tract as a result of promotion of irrigation facilities by the Barind Multipurpose Development Authorities (BMDA).

Agriculturist Sirajul Islam said field-level officials, experts and other organisations concerned had been providing necessary instructions to the farmers to make their farming a total success.

Most of the growers have harvested better yields of potatoes for the last couple of years.

Last season, the farmers harvested more than 3.6 million tons of potatoes in around 164,000 hectares of land in the division, Islam added.

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