Dighinala farmers shifting to maize farming from tobacco
DIGHINALA, KHAGRACHHARI, Apr 11: Farmers at Dighinala Upazila of the district are shifting to maize farming on the fields of tobacco.
Local office of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has been giving incentives for maize cultivation since 2017 as alternative of tobacco farming.
Local maize cultivators are increasing every year for higher profits from the maize farming than tobacco.
According to sources at the DAE, the maize cultivation does not require high cost and labour, and it makes no harm to the soil quality, fertility.
This year, a total of 140 hectares (ha) of land in five unions with a production target of 1,120 metric tons (MT) has been brought under the maize cultivation at Dighinala Upazila, which is a 20 ha higher than the last year's figure, the sources said.
Putting an emphasis on the processing and marketing to expand the maize farming in the hilly zone, the DAE officials are expecting a vibrant farming of maize in the forthcoming years.
If assurance is available for processing and marketing, it shall be a revolutionary change to the maize cultivation in one/two years, the DAE officials said.
While talking with The Daily Observer, local farmers remained affirmative about the farming cost. They said it is very cost-effective requiring Tk 25-30 thousand per acre. They are hoping around Tk 90 thousamd per acre if the harvest is good.
Beyond the human consumption, the maize produces cattle feed and fire wood as well.
This season the highest maize cultivation has been in the upazila's Merung Union. The growth has been good for the good soil and the favourable natural environment.
In the Merung Union, the highest maize grower is farmer Nurul Kalam Bhutto of Sawdagorpara.
He said getting the local marketing assurance and the incentive of the DAE, the local farmers have turned interest towards maize.
Referring to the year's maize farming in around 150 acre fields of the union, he said he has farmed four-acre land at a cost of Tk 1.70 lakh and growth has also been a good.
He is hoping a production worth about Tk 4 lakh. He has also engaged many other local farmers in maize farming assuring them of purchasing their maize at Tk 600 per maund.
Farmers, Md. Mostafa and Monoar of Boro Merung area, said, "This year, we've started to cultivate hybrid maize on an experiment basis as an alternative to tobacco," adding, "Upazila agriculture office has assisted us with seed and fertiliser."
"Farmer Nurul Islam Bhutto has given us assurance of buying our produce at Tk 600 per maund," the pointed out.
The farmers also showed interest that they'll cultivate maize as the alternative to tobacco without the incentive if they get assurance of marketing.
Deputy Director Poresh Chakma, who is in charge of Merung Union, said, "We're working in the field for attracting farmers towards maize cultivation through offering incentive."
He added it has resulted in increased number of maize growers since 2017.
He referred to the highest farming of maize in Merung Union and said if they get marketing assurance, they'll continue maize cultivation.
Upazila Agriculture Officer Oscar Biswas said, without incentive, many farmers have cultivated maize.
"We've provided incentives to 200 farmers for farming maize on 27 ha land in different areas of the upazila," he pointed out.
According to him, the highest incentive recipients are in Merung Union.
Beyond the incentive coverage, there has been a cultivation of hybrid maize on 113 ha lands. The total cultivation of maize has stood at 140 ha at Dighinala Upazila.
Dighinala Upazila Chairman Alhaj Md. Kashem said, "We've undertaken various initiatives for alternative farming of tobacco to get the farmers of this area free from tobacco aggression."
"We've already been working to ensure irrigation and marketing for the farmers," he added.
He asked farmers not to be frustrated about marketing their maize produce.