Although it appears granular like Chinese kaun, the crop in question is Quinoa, a South American crop. After five long years of research at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, this new crop was cultivated in five plots across Bangladesh for the first time this year.
There were two plots in Lalmonirhat, one in Kurigram and two in Patuakhali. The three plots in Lalmonirhat and Kurigram measure about a total of 70 decimal. All plots produced the expected yield.
Israil Hossain, a farmer from Chinipara village in Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila, told The Daily Star that he did not about the quinoa crop. He cultivated quinoa on 25 decimal of land on the advice of Iqbal Hasan, an agronomist of a private company. “It cost Tk 13,000 to cultivate quinoa and I got 70 kg yield from 25 decimal land,” he said.
Mukul Kumar Roy, a farmer from Barua village in Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila, told The Daily Star, “I cultivated this crop using organic fertiliser. The yield was as I expected,” he said.
Bikash Chandra Paul, a farmer from Dhaniram village in Kurigram’s Phulbari upazila, told The Daily Star that he planted a new crop so other farmers in the village were flocking to see it. “If I get the market benefits of this crop, many farmers will be motivated to cultivate quinoa,” he said.
Iqbal Hassan, an agronomist for a private company, told The Daily Star that it costs Tk 500-600 for farming quinoa in each decimal of land where the production can reach around 3-4 kg. “I was personally inspired to cultivate quinoa with three farmers as a pilot project. The results are very satisfactory,” he said adding “there is a huge demand in the international market for quinoa, In Bangladesh, consumers have to buy imported quinoa at Tk 1,600 per kg.”
Dr Parimal Kanti Biswas, Professor at the Department of Agronomy, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University in Dhaka, told The Daily Star that quinoa is a high protein food. This is called a superfood. Quinoa contains amino acids and is rich in lysine, which helps promote healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fibre. When cooked, its grains quadruple in size and become almost transparent, he noted.
He further said, “After 5 years long of research, I have started cultivating quinoa in the field for piloting. The results are also good. After my application, the Ministry of Agriculture approved the cultivation of quinoa in Bangladesh in September 2020,” he said adding it is possible to cultivate quinoa on both drought and saline soil areas. “This crop is cultivated in the middle of November and harvested in from the first week of March to mid-March,” he said.