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Asia 23/02/2024

India: Rajshahi region: Potato farming declines in eight years

RAJSHAHI, Feb 19: Potato cultivation has witnessed a remarkable decline in Rajshahi region in the last eight years.

Insiders blamed the uptrend in the prices of inputs, including fertilisers, pesticides and seeds, and higher irrigation cost for the decline in the cultivation of the tuber crop.

Potato cultivation has decreased to total 8,526 hectares of land in the above mentioned period in the region.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Rajshahi, potato was cultivated on 43,481 hectares of land in the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17 in the region; 40,361 hectares of land in the FY 2017-18; 37,971 hectares in the FY 2018-19; 35,855 hectares in the FY 2019-20; 36,329 hectares in the FY 2020-21; 38,543 hectares in the FY 2021-22 and 36,615 hectares of land in the FY 2022-23.

On the other hand, in the current financial year 2023-24, potato cultivation has decreased by 1,660 hectares to only 34,955 hectares.

As a result, farming of the tuber crop has decreased by total 8,526 hectares of land in the last eight years in the region.

While visiting different areas of the district recently, this correspondent found farmers busy picking potatoes from fields.

Farmers are apprehensive about losses due to high production cost despite the bumper yield of the crop due to favorable weather condition.

Farmers in Chanpur area of Tanor municipality said that the potato production cost increased this season compared to the last season.

Therefore, if the cost of production per bigha is to be met and profit to be made, then potato has to be sold at a higher price, they observed.

Therefore, as the price was high at the beginning of the season, farmers picked and sold potatoes in advance in the hope of making a profit.

At one time, potato was sold at Tk50 per kg, but now it is being sold at Tk 30 to Tk 32 per kg.

Mamun-or-Rashid, a farmer of Chanpur area, said, "This year, I cultivated potato on four bighas of land. Potato has been produced at the rate of 50 maunds per bigha. But after another 30 to 35 days, I would get 65 to 70 maunds of potato. In the hope of getting a higher price, I picked up potatoes and marketed them in advance. Although the price was higher, I could not make much profit due to low production."

Potato trader Anarul Islam said that traders are buying potato at the rate of Tk23-24 per kg. Potato prices have started to rise. But if the price of potatoes is low, the farmers are not picking potatoes.

He also said that the potatoes that are currently being harvested are 70 to 78 days old. These potatoes are also low in weight. Again there is a risk of rapid spoilage.

"Last year at this time of the season, potatoes were sold at Tk10 to 11 per kg. Production costs have increased this year. So this year we have to buy potatoes at the rate of Tk 23 to Tk 24 per kg," he added.

However, visiting different markets, this correspondent found that the retail traders were buying and selling new potatoes at the rate of Tk35 to Tk 40 per kg.

Professor Dr Aminul Islam of the Faculty of Agriculture of Rajshahi University said, ’Our potatoes are in high demand in various countries including Malaysia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. So if the production is high, potatoes can be exported to those countries."

Mozdar Hossain, deputy director of the DAE, Rajshahi, said, "Earlier, farmers benefited a lot from settlement of the potato production cost, but now it is not possible. Still, as there is no alternative, farmers continue to grow potatoes."

"Nowadays mustard cultivation is giving more profit with less cost. Because 50,000 to 60,000 taka is spent for potato cultivation per bigha of land, but the profit is very limited. But by cultivating mustard on the same amount of land spending Tk 4,000 to Tk 5,000, farmers can make a profit of about Tk 20,000. So, conscious farmers are switching to mustard cultivation as an alternative to potato. As a result, potato cultivation may decrease further in the future," he added.

anaetru@gmail.com

Fuente: https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/country/rajshahi-region-potato-farming-declines-in-eight-years-1708358388


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