Many farmers in Rangpur’s Lalmonirhat Sadar and Aditamari upazila have turned to vegetable seed cultivation after being left unsatisfied by the prevailing prices of food grains.
With various seed companies cooperating with these farmers, they have been able to turn their lives around by securing proper returns for their produce.
Atul Chandra Roy, a farmer of Durakuti village in Lalmonirhat Sadar, said they cultivate vegetable seeds on 10 to 50 decimals of land each year. Farmers get about four to eight kilogrammes of seed from each bigha of land.
“I have been producing vegetable seeds for the past 10 years,” Roy added.
It takes three-and-a-half months to ready a single seed for sowing while highlands are usually selected for cultivation.
“Besides, organic fertilisers are also used on seed producing fields,” said Delwar Hossain, a farmer of Kamlabari village in Aditmari upazila.
“We have to be very careful and aware while producing the seeds,” he added.
Over 1,000 farmers are involved in cultivating vegetable seeds in 20 villages of Lalmonirhat Sadar and Aditmari upazila, said Mehedi Hasan, assistant manager of Lal Teer Seed, a seed producing company based in the northern region.
“We purchase the farmer’s vegetable seeds at a fair price,” he said, adding that seed companies also provide technical support for growing and processing seeds.
Sabed Ali, a farmer at Fulgach village in Lalmonirhat, said farmers produce various vegetable seeds, including bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cauliflower, cabbage, chilli, lady’s finger, ridge gourd, tomato and so on.
According to variety and quality, the seeds are sold at prices between Tk 5,000 to Tk 25,000.
The farmers can earn twice if the conditions remain favourable.
“Without producing vegetable seeds, it was impossible to bring solvency to my family,” Ali said, adding that many farmers in his village have followed suit.
According to officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Lalmonirhat, at least 2,000 farmers in the region are involved in producing vegetable seeds.
Farmers in the region are very pleased with the prices they get for seeds, said Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of the DAE in Lalmonirhat.
Although some of these farmers have been associated with seed production for a long time, there are also many newcomers to the industry.
“Other than the seed companies, farmers are also given advice and technical support from the DAE to help develop advanced seeds,” Ashraf told The Daily Star.